Football Cardinals hammer Parker

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MTT News's picture
Adam Hatlan/For the Times-Tribune
Middleton defensive coordinator Tom Cabalka was a happy man after the Cardinals blanked Janesville Parker, 28-0./Tiimes-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton’s football team entered last Friday’s game motivated, driven and inspired following a tough loss to Verona the previous week.

The Cardinals then played like a team on a mission.

Middleton rolled past visiting Janesville Parker, 28-0, in its Homecoming game. The Cardinals improved to 5-1 in the Big Eight Conference and overall and remained one game behind league-leading Verona (6-0).

Middleton had dominated the stat sheet against Verona the previous week, but wasn’t able to finish on multiple drives. Cardinals head coach Tim Simon knew his team needed to be better against Parker (2-4) if they wanted a win.

“Parker is a good team. They’re a big, physical team,” Simon said. “I think the difference this week (from last week vs Verona) was we made some crucial plays tonight that we didn’t make last week.”

One of those crucial plays was a kickoff to open the second half.

On what would be Parker’s only kickoff of the night, return man Tre Turner took the kick 79 yards for a touchdown. Turner ran laterally across the field, broke multiple tackles, and raced back across the field for the score.

Turner’s return gave Middleton a 21-0 lead and gave it some momentum to start the half.

“We came out at halftime and wanted to assert ourselves offensively,” Simon said. “The whole team got a boost out of that (kickoff return). The sideline was going nuts and everybody was celebrating. That play was a key to the game.”

Middleton played well on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Vikings, 281-95, in total offense. Behind a stout offensive line, the Cardinals were able to rush for 178 yards, nearly on par with the 186 yards they averaged heading into the game.

Janesville Parker features a mountain of a man in defensive lineman Juan Harris, who checks in in at 6-foot-3, 395 pounds. Going up against such a force in the middle of the line made the Cardinals’ rushing stats even more impressive.

Harris, a senior headed to Indiana University in 2017, went toe-to-toe much of the evening with 6’3”, 320 pound Kayden Lyles, Middleton’s center and a University of Wisconsin recruit. The two will potentially go head-to-head during the 2017 Big 10 season. Lyles was confident in the offense facing Harris and the physical Parker defense.

“We game planned as usual,” Lyles said. “When he (Harris) lines up, he’s a big, physical player. We had to account for him when he was out there.”

Simon agreed.

“Since (Harris) plays on both sides of the ball, our plan was move the sticks on offense so we could tire him out on defense,” Simon said. “I don’t know if that happened or not, but we did have some nice long drives and he was on the field for some long stretches of time.”

Overall, Lyles was pleased with the work of Middleton’s offense.

“We need to get better at a few different things, but our running backs have been doing really good,” Lyles said. “Our communication and being one as a whole, it’s been really good, but there’s always room for improvement.”

Middleton used a five-play drive for the game’s first score, as quarterback Davis Roquet plunged in from two yards out to give the Cardinals a 7-0 advantage at the 1:55 mark of the first quarter. The play was set up by a 30-yard scamper by running back James Pabst earlier in the drive that put the Cardinals at the 2-yard line.

Middleton scored its second touchdown — an 18-yarder — on a terrific play by receiver Myron Ashford, Jr. in the second quarter.

Roquet rolled to his right and threw a perfect pass on a fade route to the end zone. Ashford, Jr. scaled his defender and plucked the ball, began falling backwards, and tipped the ball in the air to himself, before landing in the end zone for the score.

“Basically, I like to focus on the ball and look for the nose (of the ball),” Ashford, Jr. said with a grin. “And I just made the play.”

It stayed that way until Turner’s explosive return to begin the second half.

The Cardinals added another score later in the third on a 1-yard diving touchdown by running back Joe Ludwig that stretched Middleton’s lead to 28-0.

Lining up in the wildcat, Ludwig took the snap and dove over the left side for the score. The touchdown was set up by a 24-yard quarterback keeper by Roquet on fourth-and-1 earlier in the six-play drive and would be the game’s final score.

Simon was pleased with the team’s effort.

“We felt like we left some plays out on the field last week (against Verona). We didn’t play bad last week, we just couldn’t finish,” Simon said. “We were able to make some plays tonight, whether it was a key block to spring the running back or Myron’s catch in the end zone. The kids came out and made plays.”

Middleton’s defense held Parker to 90 rushing yards and just two completions and five passing yards. The Cardinals also racked up three sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss. Parker ran just five plays in Middleton territory all evening.

”We were tough and physical up front,” Simon said. “Janesville is a run-oriented team. When we can stop the run and force them to pass like we did, we know we’re doing some good things.

“I’m most proud of our defensive stop in the second quarter when we fumbled the ball on offense. Parker wasn’t able to capitalize on the good starting field position. We were fast to flow to the football all night — just solid defensively.”

Simon knew this was an important game for his team to stay in the hunt for a conference championship.

“I was proud of our overall mental toughness and focus,” he said. “It was a tough week for us. We were battling some adversity. I was really proud of the way the kids were able to focus on the football game.

“We have to do what we’ve been doing and make the adjustments we need to make. Our defense is going to be challenged next week, but our defense has stepped up all year long, so we expect to do that next week as well.”

On deck: Middleton travels to Madison LaFollete (3-3) Friday at 7 p.m.


Middleton 28, Janesville Parker 0

Janesville Parker ………………… 0  0  0  0 — 0

Middleton ……………………………. 7  7  14  0 — 28


First quarter

M — Roquet, 2, run (Polecek kick), 1:55

Second quarter

M — Ashford, Jr., 18, pass from Roquet (Polecek kick), 2:44

Third quarter

M — Turner, 79, kickoff return (Polecek kick), 11:41

M — Ludwig, 1, run (Polecek kick), 5:08


First Downs: M 12, JP 9. Rushing (att-yd): M 38-178, JP 37-90. Passing (comp-att-yd-td-int): M 9-16-103-1-0, JP 2-8-5-0-0. Fumbles-lost: M 2-1, JP 3-1. Penalties-yds: M 7-75, JP 4-39. Time of possession: M 23:22, JP 24:38.


Rushing (att-yd-td): JP — Vance 19-81-0; M — Pabst 10-63-0, Huff 11-53-0, Roquet 5-26-1, Delaney 5-20-0, Femanich 3-15-0, Ludwig 2-3-1, Helbach 2-2-0.

Passing (comp-att-yd-td-int): JP — Bailey 2-8-5-0-0; M — Roquet 9-16-103-1-0.

Receiving (rec-yd-td): JP — Thornton 2-5-0; M — Ashford Jr. 2-27-1, Femanich 3-26-0, Huff 2-29-0, Helbach 1-11-0, J. Smith  1-10-0.


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