With two games to play entering last Friday, the Necedah prep football team needed just one win to punch its ticket back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
The Cardinals made the most of their first shot, rallying out of an early first quarter hole for a 34-20 win over Onalaska Luther to earn their first postseason trip in seven years. Senior Landen Murphy registered a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating after throwing for 149 yards and three touchdowns on 9-of-10 passing, while senior Stephen Daley rushed for 155 yards and two scores on 13 carries to fuel Necedah.
Daley, who averaged 11.9 yards per attempt, put the Cardinals (6-2, 4-2 Scenic Bluffs) in front 8-6 early but the Knights quickly responded to seize a 12-8 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.
Murphy took over from there.
The righty signal caller rattled off three straight passing touchdowns, a pair to senior Mekhi Baradji from 13 and 16 yards out before connecting on a 13-yard pitch-and-catch to Josiah Hansen to open the fourth quarter and give the Cardinals a 28-12 lead.
Luther (4-4, 3-3) answered with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Eli Krause to Nathan Riley to pull within 28-20, but the Cardinals shut the door as Daley ripped off a 33-yard touchdown scamper to put things away. Along with Murphy and Daley, Baradji accounted for 126 total yards, including a team-high four catches for 75 yards.
Meanwhile, Necedah’s defense held the Knights to 162 yards rushing on 34 carries, sacked Krause three times and had two interceptions. The Cardinals will look to close out the regular season strong this week when they head to rival New Lisbon.
Rockets play way onto playoff bubble
Speaking of New Lisbon, the Rockets put themselves firmly in the playoff discussion last week as they pulled away for a 44-18 win over Riverdale in a Scenic Bluffs/Ridge and Valley Conference crossover game.
New Lisbon (5-3, 3-3) got 184 yards and three TDs on 16 carries from junior Nikita Shankle, while the Rockets piled up 340 yards on the ground and five scores to move within one game of their first playoff appearance since 2016.
The Rockets took some time to get off the ground however as they held a slim 14-6 lead at halftime. The intermission was just what New Lisbon ordered however as a 16-point third quarter gave it a 30-6 lead and plenty of cushion to fend off the Chieftains.
Along with Shankle, Jake Cox rushed for 73 yards and a score on five touches, while junior Ashton Pfaff had 73 total yards and two scores, including 43 yards through the air on 4-of-5 attempts.
Marcus Forsythe had eight tackles, including six solo, and Lucas Vercimak had six solo tackles to lead the Rockets defense, which will surely be tested against a high-power Cardinals offense that has just under 3,000 total yards and 37 touchdowns this season.
Golden Eagles clawed up by Pumas
Looking to keep pace for a third straight South Central Conference championship, Mauston’s title hopes took a severe dent last Friday as it suffered a 40-8 rout at the hands of Poynette.
The Golden Eagles (6-2, 5-1 South Central) had over 300 yards of total offense, but only mustered 63 yards rushing while allowing the Pumas to pile up 330 yards on the ground in the 32-point loss. After being shutout in the first quarter, Mauston seized the lead four minutes into the second quarter as senior Spenser Lehman connected with junior Carver Goodman on a 4-yard touchdown pass.
Lehman then found Garron Brandt on the two-point conversion pass for an 8-7 advantage, but it didn’t last long. Poynette answered back three minutes later on a 26-yard Dylan Elsing touchdown run to go up 14-8.
It was just the beginning for the Pumas (5-3, 3-3), who added another score just before halftime before tacking on three more scores in the final 24 minutes to end the Golden Eagles’ 5-game winning streak. Lehman threw for 246 yards and Mauston’s only score on 19-of-33 passing, while senior Jimmy Heath (205 yards, 4 TDs) and Elsing (114, 1) both went over the century mark on the ground for Poynette.
While the Pumas put a stop to Mauston’s unbeaten SCC record, the Golden Eagles can still earn a share of the league crown this week when they host unbeaten bitter rival Wisconsin Dells.
Panthers can’t hold back Eagles
After a pair of forfeit defeats, Royall returned to the gridiron last week against league co-leader Cashton.
The Eagles were far too much for the Panthers to handle as they suffered a 47-8 road loss in a Scenic Bluffs Conference. Royall had just 179 total yards while Cashton chewed up 330 yards and four scores on the ground with another 116 through the air in the 39-point loss.
Cashton needed some time to heat up as neither team scored in the first quarter, but once getting off the ground, the Eagles were soaring. Cashton seized a 21-8 lead at halftime before tacking on four more scores in the third quarter to put a running clock into effect and run away with things.
Gunnar Wopat threw for 109 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions on 7-of-12 passing while Bryce Gruen rushed for 61 of the Panthers’ 70 rushing yards on 19 carries. Cashton meanwhile got 125 yards and two scores from Colin O’Neil on 12 carries and four other ball carries had at least 40 yards for the Eagles.
Royall (2-6, 0-6) closes the season this week with an SBC/R&V Conference crossover game against De Soto.
Vanguards blank Silver Wolves
Wonewoc-Center/Weston had no answer for Wisconsin Heights last Saturday in a 41-0 loss to the Vanguards in Southern Conference 8-play game at Wonewoc-Center.
The Silver Wolves gave up four first-quarter scores and never found any traction against Wisconsin Heights. The Vanguards meanwhile got 218 total yards from quarterback Carson Hosking, who rushed for a team-high 143 yards and four scores on 18 carries.
Wonewoc-Center/Weston will look for its first win of the season this week when the Silver Wolves travel to Kickapoo/La Farge.