You can’t avoid Waunakee. It’s a fact of life for high school football teams in the Badger North Conference. At least one night every fall, you’re going to have to strap it up against the powerhouse Warriors.
Baraboo’s time came Friday, with the host Thunderbirds suffering a 39-7 loss to unbeaten Waunakee at Beryl Newman Stadium.
“They’re the best team we’ve played,” Baraboo coach Steve Turkington said of the third-ranked Warriors. “They’re really good. You watch them on film and they look good. ... And then you see them on the field and we felt like we looked like we were moving slow. But I don’t think it was that we were moving slow; they were just moving that quick.
“But I think our kids fought. They fought all the way through.”
The outcome was never in doubt, as Waunakee (5-0, 3-0 Badger North) took just five offensive plays to find the end zone. The drive, which started at Waunakee’s 35-yard line, started with a 20-yard run by quarterback Caden Nelson. The big play came on a screen pass to Isaac Schaaf, who took it 30 yards into Baraboo territory before another 15 yards were tacked on by a facemask penalty. On the ensuing play, Nelson threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Alec Morgan and Aidan Driscoll kicked the extra point to give Waunakee a 7-0 lead just 1 minute, 17 seconds into the game.
Baraboo (0-3, 0-5) went three-and-out on its first possession, while Waunakee’s second drive lasted just four plays. Facing a third-and-7, Nelson ran for a 30-yard touchdown run with 7:30 to play in the first quarter. The Warriors faked the extra point, with holder Jacob May finding Jeb Frey for the two-point conversion and a 15-0 lead.
The T-Birds went three-and-out again, as Waunakee had good field position all night. The Warriors capped their third drive when Cole Mobley ran it up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown and Driscoll kicked the extra point to give Waunakee a 22-0 lead with 3:32 to go in the first quarter.
Baraboo got its first stop on Waunakee’s fourth possession of the night, forcing a three-and-out.
The T-Birds put together back-to-back stops when Owen Nachtigal recovered a fumble on the next Waunakee possession.
But the T-Birds’ offense couldn’t get anything going, as they lost 11 yards and failed to pick up a first down for the fifth straight possession.
Lawson Ludwig returned the punt to the Baraboo 29-yard line and it took just one play for the Warriors to add to their lead. Mobley broke loose for a 29-yard touchdown run gave the Warriors a 29-0 lead after a Driscoll extra point with 8:45 to play.
Baraboo got something going on its sixth possession of the night. Clayton Teasdale returned the kickoff to the Baraboo 43-yard line. Nachtigal ran for Baraboo’s first down of the night, then a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt gave the T-Birds another first down and set them up at the Waunakee 30-yard line. Nachtigal broke off a 17-yard run down to the 12-yard line, but Waunakee’s defense stiffened and Baraboo’s 29-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
The Warriors had one more drive in them, thanks in part to a pair of Baraboo penalties that moved Waunakee from the 50-yard line to the 25-yard line with 4 seconds to play in the half. Driscoll made a 42-yard field goal to give the Warriors a 32-0 lead going into halftime.
The T-Birds made several defensive plays in second half. Joe White Eagle’s sack went for naught, as Schaaf caught a 23-yard touchdown on the next play and Driscoll made the extra point to give the Warriors a 39-0 lead with 7:02 to go in the third quarter, starting a running clock
Baraboo got into Waunakee territory two more times. The first ended with a turnover downs, but the second ended in the end zone, as the T-Birds scored against Waunakee for the first time since 2016.
Baraboo’s scoring drive came on its final possession of the night, which started when sophomore Riley Weyh recovered a fumble at the Baraboo 28-yard line. Weyh also found the end zone, as senior quarterback Graham Langkamp threw him a 61-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds remaining. Langkamp tacked on the extra point for a final score of 39-7.
“We haven’t been able to throw the ball at all, and we kind of saw at halftime that they weren’t really respecting the pass,” Turkington said of the touchdown. “(Weyh) had some room on the sideline, so we threw it out there and he got under it. He’s a good receiver, and a sophomore.
“We’re playing with a lot of sophomores and juniors ... and they’re learning lessons every week as we go through the season. It’s going to pay dividends down the road for sure, whatever happens with these guys. Our seniors are leading these young guys and learning how to lead, so it’s a good all-around thing. Obviously we want to win football games, but we’ve got some good things going.”
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The T-Birds have played the Warriors three times in the last calendar year, including a 27-0 Waunakee win in Baraboo’s first WIAA playoff game since 2006.
Baraboo will no longer have Waunakee on its schedule every year, as the T-Birds will play in the Badger Small and the Warriors in the Badger Large when the conferences realign in 2020.
The T-Birds will look to get in the win column when they head to Portage next Friday.
Waunakee 0 0 0 7 — 7</&hspag2>
Baraboo 22; 10; 7; 0; — 39
WAU — Morgan 9 pass from Caden Nelson (Driscoll kick), 10:43
WAU — Caden Nelson 30 run (Frey pass from May), 7:30
WAU — Mobley 7 run (Driscoll kick), 3:32
WAU — Mobley 29 run (Driscoll kick), 8:45
WAU — Driscoll 42 field goal, :00
WAU — Schaaf 23 pass from Caden Nelson (Driscoll kick), 7:02
BAR — Weyh 61 pass from Langkamp (Langkamp kick), :26
First Downs— WAU 11, BAR 5. Rushes-Yards— WAU 9-65, BAR 13-37. Passing Yards— WAU 82, BAR 76. Comp-Att-Int— WAU 5-12-0, BAR 4-4-0. Total Yards— WAU 147, BAR 113. Fumbles-Lost— WAU 3-2, BAR 1-0. Penalties-Yards— WAU 6-75, BAR 11-81. Records— WAU 5-0, 3-0, BAR 0-5, 0-3.
Rushing: WAU, Mobley 9-65. BAR, Nachtigal 13-37.
Passing: WAU, Nelson 5-12-82-0. BAR, Langkamp 4-4-76-0.
Receiving: WAU, Schaaf 2-50. BAR, Weyh 2-65.