Football Cardinals rout Madison West

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton co-coach Jason Pertzborn, quarterback Bryce Carey and the Cardinals routed Madison West, 40-0./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

It’s good to be Jason Pertzborn these days.

Middleton’s co-head football coach and offensive coordinator calls the plays each Friday night. And Pertzborn has a bevy of options at his disposal.

Kallion Buckner, who ranks No. 1 in the Big Eight and No. 12 in the state in rushing, is the Cardinals’ most impressive running back in years. Tight ends Max Schlicht and Jake Klubertanz form a dangerous duo.

Wideouts Sam Close and Marquez Winters, along with jack-of-all-trades Kevin Meicher can all go the distance every time they touch the ball. And quarterback Bryce Carey can beat teams with his arm and legs.

“We have a lot of playmakers,” Pertzborn said.

Never was that more evident than the Cardinals’ 40-0 rout of Madison West last Friday.

Middleton scored touchdowns on six of its first seven possessions. Even more impressive, the Cardinals found the endzone on six of their first 26 plays.

Middleton’s defense was lights-out, holding the Regents to just 199 total yards. And one week after a lackluster performance in Verona, the Cardinals were sharp in all three phases.

Middleton improved to 2-1 in both the Big Eight Conference and overall and now host league co-leader Madison Memorial (3-0) Friday at 7 p.m. West fell to 1-2, 1-2.

“This was huge,” said Meicher, a standout corner who plays a handful of snaps each game on offense. “Way big. Coming into the week, we learned from last week our preparation had to change, obviously. We were really focused and each day we really came in and competed.”

Carey, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third, agreed.

“I was very happy,” Carey said. “We were a lot more focused in practice after last week’s loss. That was kind of an eye-opener.”

Middleton had plenty of motivation for this game.

Not only had the Cardinals lost to Verona one week earlier, West also defeated Middleton in the second round of the 2017 playoffs. The Cardinals proceeded to take any lingering frustrations out on the Regents.

Middleton ran just 22 offensive plays in the first half, and amazingly, scored five touchdowns in that time. The Cardinals also found the endzone on five of their six first half possessions and cruised to a 33-0 lead at the break.

“The big plays were huge on the offensive side of the ball,” Pertzborn said. “As you’re seeing, we’re trying to get them all touches. It’s not easy.”

Perhaps, but Pertzborn and the Cardinals’ offense made it look easy.

On Middleton’s first offensive play of the night, Buckner exploded for a 47-yard touchdown run off left tackle to give the Cardinals a quick 7-0 lead. That was the start of a night that saw Buckner run for 166 yards on just 13 carries (12.8) and score twice.

“He’s looked really good,” Pertzborn said of Buckner. “(Offensive line) Coach (Joe) Poehls said this summer that in his time here, Kallion was the best zone runner he’d seen.

“And that zone is patience and vision. Kallion has really good patience and he does such a good job of fitting in spaces that are really small. So he does a great job and his cutbacks are a real problem. He keeps getting better each week.”

Two series later, Middleton put together an eight-play, 52-yard scoring drive. Buckner had the first 46 yards on the ground, then Carey hit Close on a 6-yard touchdown to give the Cardinals 13-0 lead.

On Middleton’s next series, junior Marquez Winters erupted for a 29-yard touchdown run on a perfectly executed reverse to make it 19-0.

“Marquez is probably the fastest guy on the team,” Pertzborn said. “You don’t know it because he’s a long strider and it doesn’t look like he’s running really fast. But he’s going really fast and the way we’ve been playing, we get a lot of man to man. And I just don’t see how guys can stay with him to man-to-man, so you’ve got to take those shots every now and again.”

When Middleton got the ball back, Carey ran a read-option play with Meicher on his hip. Carey kept the ball and exploded for a 40-yard touchdown that gave the Cardinals a 26-0 lead.

“I was actually quite surprised because we ran that a lot against Verona and I don’t think I gave it once to Kevin,” Carey said. “But once I kept it, I had a lot of room.”

Middleton then put together its longest drive of the night — an 8-play, 82-yard march — just before halftime. Carey hit Klubertanz for gains of 13 and 10, found Close for 31 yards and capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to the 6-foot-7 Schlicht.

“I just knew we had a mismatch with Max being 6-7,” Carey said. “I just rolled out a little bit and waited until he finished his route and found him.”

On the flip side, the Cardinals held West to 117 total yards in the first half. The Regents ran for 84 yards on 25 carries (3.4) and completed just 2-of-9 passes for 33 yards.

“Coming in, we knew that they were a team like Verona that could spread the ball around,” Meicher said. “But our front seven really got into the scouting report and into the film and we shut them down.”

Middleton needed just four plays and 1:17 to cover 61 yards on its first possession of the second half. Buckner ripped off a 41-yard run off of right tackle, then he hammered in from 6 yards out to give the Cardinals a 40-0 lead and start a running clock.

“He’s having an unbelievable year,” Pertzborn said of Buckner. “And those guys up front, he’s not getting touched until the second level. Our line is just doing a great job, and then (Buckner’s) got that breakaway speed. Buckner has earned it. He’s the man. He’s the man right now.”
With the clock running, West managed just 14 second half plays. Middleton, meanwhile, had many of its reserves into the game before the third quarter was over and cruised home.

“The depth we have at every position is just crazy,” Meicher said. “Everyone competes every day in practice and it just makes everyone that much better.”

The Cardinals will have to be at their best Friday when Memorial comes to town at 7 p.m.

The Spartans have already defeated defending conference champion and 2017 Division 1 state runner-up Sun Prairie. Memorial is averaging 36.7 points per game and has scored at least 32 points in ever game.

“Because of (Verona), we have to win every game,” Pertzborn said. “But we can only win one game every week, so it’s got to be a great week or practice and the focus has to be on us every week. That’s what I told them (last) week. It’s about us getting better. We need to turn the page and get better. That’s all we can do. That’s all we can control.

“Memorial’s a great team and it should be a great game. But this is why you play, to be in games like this. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”



Middleton..................7 26 7 0 — 40

Madison West.............0 0 0 0 — 0

MID — Buckner 47 run (Pertzborn kick)

MID — Close 6 pass from Carey (kick failed)

MID — Winters 29 run (run failed)

MID — Carey 40 run (Pertzborn kick)

MID — Schlicht 8 pass from Carey (Pertzborn kick)

MID — Buckner, 6, run (Pertzborn kick)


First downs — MID 17, MW 14. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — MID 32-308, MW 33-145. Passing yards — MID 67, MW 54. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — MID 7-12-0, MW 3-15-1. Fumbles-lost — MID 0-0, MW 1-1. Penalties-yards — MID 3-30, MW 5-35.


Rushing: MID, Buckner 13-166. MW, Gutknecht 14-81. Passing: MID, Carey 7-11-0-81. MW, Gutknecht 3-15-1-54. Receiving: MID, Close 2-37. MW, Jones 2-31.


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