Sometimes it’s just your night.
Everything goes your way and everything seems to work.
It certainly felt that way for the Portage prep football team Friday night as the Warriors pitched a second straight shutout, cruising past Whitewater, 56-0, in their non-conference home opener at Bob Mael Field. Portage scored on all but three possessions, held the Whippets to a paltry 55 yards nad dominated in all facets for the program’s first 2-0 start since 2007.
“It’s amazing. We hit them in the mouth first quarter and we stuck to it. We got our depth guys in and they kept pounding in and out. That’s what Portage Warrior football is about,” Portage senior Jordan Starr said.
“It’s overwhelming excitement. Playing Portage Warrior football like he said; that’s what we want to do and we came out and executed,” senior Erik Brouette added.
He wasn’t kidding.
Portage scored on each of its first six possessions of the night with a 40-yard punt return touchdown by Brouette sandwiched in there as it surged to a 49-0 lead at halftime. The Warriors wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, too, as after forcing a three-and-out on the Whippets’ opening drive, Portage needed just three plays to find paydirt as Starr charged in from nine yards out with 10 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
A two-point conversion pass from junior Gavin Thompson to senior Ashton Krasovec gave the Warriors an 8-0 lead and they never looked back. Although, the Whippets did look to counterpunch early.
Whitewater sniffed the Warriors’ redzone on the next drive, picking up three of its four first downs and getting down to the Portage 32-yard line. The Whippets were caged from there however, as the Warriors forced back-to-back incomplete passes before a host of defenders sacked senior quarterback Brock Gosinske for an 8-yard loss for a turnover on downs.
It was no surprise to coach Shane Haak or Starr.
“I’ve been impressed with how physical we’ve been and that’s a major part of football; being physical and I thought we’ve been relentless,” Haak said.
“Physical football; that’s what they’re (coaches Shane and Tim Haak) about and that’s what Portage Warrior football is about,” Starr added.
The Warriors’ offense took over from there and didn’t let up.
Brouette charged in from 29 yards out on the next Portage drive for a 16-0 lead with 2:12 left in the first quarter as the flood gates opened from there. The Warriors had reservations for six, five more times in the second quarter, sparked by a Brouette 71-yard TD scamper and punctuated by a Starr 6-yard TD run with 4:03 left before the break for a commanding 49-0 lead.
Senior Sam Horn and Thompson added a 42-yard pitch-and-catch, while Brouette tacked on his punt return score and sophomore Haakon Johnson plowed in from a yard out, all with the span of 2 minutes, 2 seconds.
It was a perfect display of the Warriors’ play-by-play mentality.
“We try to have that same mentality; it doesn’t matter if you’re down or up in the game, how much you’re down by or how much you’re up by,” Haak added. “You have to focus on executing that next play and I think that was one of the biggest contributing factors that let us pull away, focusing on the next play and continuing to execute each play.”
With a comfortable lead, the Warriors put the game to bed on the opening drive of the second half as junior Garret Crawford, facing a fourth-and-4, weaved his way in from 18 yards out with 5:45 to play in the third quarter to effectively keep the running clock in effect and put the final nail in the Whippets’ coffin.
Brouette rushed for a game-high 109 yards on just four carries, while Crawford added 97 on 11 touches and Starr chipped in 53 on six carries among the Warriors’ 354 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Thompson completed both passes for 54 yards, both to Horn, while the Portage defense held the Whippets to just seven rushing yards on 22 carries.
As impressive as the performance was, the Warriors have some areas of improvement, namely with penalties having committed eight infractions for 65 yards. It’s not unexpected for Haak, who is well aware his team has a long way to go, as do his players, especially with Badger Small Conference title contender Stoughton coming to town next Friday for the teams’ league opener.
“This can’t be the level of football we stay at; yes we played well tonight, but we have to continue to improve for next week. We can’t just flat line, we have to continue to improve,” Haak said.
“They’ve been trying to change the culture and now it’s finally here. We’re just trying to keep it there,” Brouette added.