Middleton rolls past Verona

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Alex Wood and Middleton's football team rolled past Verona Friday night./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

VERONA — Death by 1,000 cuts.

This is how Middleton’s football team rolled to a highly impressive 32-9 win over host Verona Friday.

The Cardinals didn’t hit many home runs. They didn’t have an abundance of explosive plays.

Instead, Middleton simply hammered away at their arch-rival. Eventually, the overmatched Wildcats wore down as Middleton outscored Verona, 23-0, in the second half.

“I think we did wear them out,” said Middleton coach Tim Simon, whose team improved to 2-0. “Nothing big, nothing fancy. I just think we stayed really composed and had a really solid effort.”

Middleton junior running back Cam Maly led the way with four rushing touchdowns, giving him seven on the young season. While Maly did much of the heavy lifting, Middleton’s offensive line of (from left) Austin Collins, Kajuan Redus, Sean Benedict, Derek Ramsey and Eric Karwoski seemed to wear out the Wildcats’ aggressive front.

Like the rest of the Cardinals, Maly got stronger as the game went on. Maly had 65 of his 94 rushing yards after halftime, and Maly had three second half rushing TDs.

“This is awesome,” Maly said afterwards. “To do this in front of their home crowd, and to beat them on their field, it’s just amazing.”

Middleton’s defense was pretty amazing, too.

The Cardinals held the Wildcats to 164 total yards and seven first downs. Verona (0-2) averaged just 3.15 yards per play, and only three of its 52 plays went for 10 yards or more.

Verona’s bread and butter is its inside trap play. But the Cardinals — led by defensive tackles Chase Jollie and Nikko Miller, and a group of speedy linebackers — took that away.

The Wildcats finished the night with just 58 rushing yards on 26 carries (2.2). And Verona standout running back Eric Schmid was held to 39 yards on 18 carries.

“The kids up front just dominated,” said Middleton defensive coordinator Tom Cabalka, whose unit is allowing only 4.5 points per game. “If Verona can run that trap, they’re really effective. If they can’t run that trap, they’re not effective.

“We really challenged our kids … and they probably worked harder all week getting ready for Verona than any team we’ve ever had. I credit that as much as anything because they knew what they needed to do. We weren’t second guessing anything.”

Middleton was scratching its collective head, though, after an uneven first half left the teams tied, 9-9.

Middleton outgained Verona, 182-100, in the first half and held a 9-4 edge in first downs. But the Cardinals committed seven penalties — including three inside the Wildcats’ 10-yard line that killed drives.

Middleton also missed an extra point and a 28-yard field goal.

The Cardinals trailed, 9-3, late in the first half, before Maly ripped off a 20-yard TD run off right tackle to tie things just 52 seconds before the break.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Simon said. “Some of the stuff was just inexcusable.

“But we told them, ‘We’re moving the ball offensively. And if we can get rid of the penalties, we’ll be fine.’ We just had to clean those things up.”

They did.

On Middleton’s second drive of the second half, it marched to the Verona 11-yard line. Senior quarterback Kellan Schulz hit junior wideout Mitchell Bacon for 19 yards on the march and Maly ripped off a 14-yard run.

Then after the drive stalled, junior Jacob Mefford drilled a 29-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 12-9 lead.

On Verona’s next series, Middleton defensive end Alex Wills — who lived in the Wildcats’ backfield all night — pressured quarterback Noah Roberts. Roberts sent a floater down the middle of the field and safety Max Boehnen intercepted at the Verona 48.

“It was awesome coming off the edge like that,” said the speedy Wills, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. “We knew we were the better team. We just had to step up and put it all together.”

On Middleton’s ensuing drive, Schulz connected with senior tight end Mitchell Herl on three straight passing plays for 36 yards.

The Cardinals eventually reached the Verona 2-yard line and faced a fourth-and-1. Maly barreled off left guard and picked up the first down by inches.

One play later, Maly hit paydirt to give the Cardinals an 18-9 lead with 1:06 left in the third quarter.

“I owe a lot of it to the offensive line,” Maly said. “Those guys did a great job, getting me some room. Then I just had to finish.”

Maly kept finishing throughout the fourth quarter, as did his fired up teammates.

Verona tried a fake punt early in the fourth quarter, but when that failed, Middleton started at the Wildcats’ 45-yard line.

Four plays later, Maly zipped off left tackle and scored from 18 yards out to push the Cardinals’ lead to 25-7.

“Cam’s very explosive,” Simon said. “He’s got some wiggle to him, but he’s also got some real power through his hips.”

Verona’s next drive died when Wills nearly sacked Roberts on fourth down. The Cardinals then finished the Wildcats off with a seven-play, 60-yard march that ended in another 1-yard TD run by Maly.

“I don’t care that much about how many touchdowns I score,” Maly said. “As long as we win I’m happy. I just want to keep this season going in this direction.”

There are many signs pointing to that becoming a reality.

Schulz had a second straight solid game, completing 17-of-26 passes for 217 yards.

“I thought he struggled a little bit early,” Simon said of Schulz. “But he really settled down nicely.”

Bacon had a huge night, catching eight passes for 116 yards. Herl added five receptions for 55 yards.

Defensively, the Cardinals continued to dazzle.

With a veteran unit, Middleton expected its defense to dominate, and that group hasn’t disappointed.

“Even when we’ve beat these guys, we haven’t played defense like this,” Cabalka said. “It’s been kind of a race track out there. So this was a lot of fun.”

Wills agreed.

“I think we all knew what we could do,” Wills said. “We just had to deliver.”

Mission accomplished.

 

Middleton ……………… 3 6 9 14 — 32

Verona …………………. 6 3 0 0 — 9

Middleton — FG, Whinnery, 28

Verona — Baltes, 44 pass from Roberts, (kick failed)

Verona — FG, Hansen, 30

Middleton — Maly, 20, run (kick failed)

Middleton — Mefford, 29, field goal

Middleton — Maly, 1, run (kick failed)

Middleton — Maly, 18, run (Mefford kick)

Middleton — Maly, 1, run (Mefford kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs — Mid 21, Ver 7. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — Mid 42-197, Ver 26-58. Passing yards — Mid 217, Ver 106. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — Mid 17-26-0, Ver 8-26-2. Fumbles-lost — Mid 0-1, Ver 0-0. Penalties-yards — Mid 13-100, Ver 6-55.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing: Mid — Maly 20-94; Ver — Schmid 18-39.

Passing: Mid — Schulz 17-26-0, 217; Ver — Roberts 8-25-2, 106.

Receiving: Mid — Bacon 8-116; Ver — Baltes 1-44.

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