Football Cards cruise past Madison East

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Gregg Hammill/For the Times-Tribune
Kallion Buckner and Middleton’s football team rolled over Madison East last Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

After a shaky start last Friday, Middleton’s offense could seemingly do no wrong.

Big plays were plentiful and even broken plays went for big gains.

It all added up to an impressive 50-0 season-opening Big Eight Conference victory for the Cardinals over Madison East on the new turf field at Otto Breitenbach Stadium.

“You always worry going into the first game, ‘Is there something we didn’t cover? Is there something we didn’t work on enough?’ ” Middleton co-coach Tim Simon said. “But I think all three facets of the game came together really well.”

Indeed, the Cardinals excelled in all phases — offense, defense and special teams — but they were especially lethal on offense as they put up an astounding 44 points in the first half while showing off an array of offensive weapons. After a pass interference penalty negated a long touchdown pass to senior tight end Max Schlicht on Middleton’s first offensive play and a fumble thwarted its opening drive, the Cardinals responded with touchdowns on its next six possessions.

“I told the guys at halftime that I’m really proud of the way the guys responded after the first offensive series,” said Simon, who is sharing head coaching duties with Jason Pertzborn this season. “We had that first touchdown that was called back, that was a good call and then we had a couple of other penalties and we just sputtered a little bit. But after that we took care of business.”

The Cardinals rolled up 437 total yards, including 362 in the first half, while the defense yielded just 80 total yards and four first downs.

The special teams did their part too, repeatedly pinning the Purgolders deep in their own territory and setting the Cardinals up with good field position.

“Our kick coverage was really, really exceptional,” Simon said. “We spend a lot of time on it the first couple weeks of practice. I don’t know if anybody spends as much time on special teams in the first month of practice as we do. So it’s nice when it pays off and the kids understand that’s why we spend that much time on our special teams. We want to flip field position and I think we did that.”

Middleton senior quarterback Bryce Carey agreed.

“One thing Coach Simon really harps on is an important percent of the game is special teams so we really put together an organized set,” Carey said. “That helps us a lot, we get good field position because of it and the offense and defense did the rest of the work.”

After fumbling the ball away on its initial possession, Middleton’s defense held on fourth down and the offense went to work. Starting from their own 36-yard line, the Cardinals fed the ball to junior running back Kallion Buckner. Buckner carried five times for 59 yards capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge. Buckner had runs of 20, 17 and 15 yards on the drive.

“He’s real shifty, real quick,” Carey said of Buckner. “He can run all over the field and he’s got great vision.”

After forcing another punt, the Cardinals needed just two plays to score again. Carey hooked up with the 6-foot-7 Schlicht on a 42-yard pass play down to the East 7. Schlicht caught the ball 10 yards downfield then surged down the sideline before being pushed out of bounds.

“Him and I we’ve been good buddies all throughout youth football,” Carey said of Schlicht. “We’ve got good chemistry. I tell him, ‘You’re a big guy, you’ve got a large arm span,’ and I just throw the ball in his area and he does the work.”

Addee Simon: “(Schlicht’s) 6-7 and he’s a weapon. He’s a big target and we’re going to use it if teams give it to us. He’ll be better at his game if the other receivers and backs are good at their games and I think we were. Bryce did a good job of spreading the ball around. When we’ve got some other weapons out there it’s a lot easier for the 6-7 guy to make some plays.”

Senior running back Joey Culp scored untouched from seven yards out on the next play to make it 14-0.

After another punt, the Cardinals drove 54 yards in three plays to make it 20-0. Carey connected with a wide open Jake Klubertanz for an 18-yard touchdown. The play was set up by a 17-yard run from Carey off a broken play after he turned to hand the ball off and nobody was in the backfield. Schlicht caught a 19-yard pass from Carey on the first play of the drive.

Middleton took advantage of a short field to score again when East’s Phil Roh III threw incomplete on fourth-and-one at the East 16. The Cardinals covered the 16 yards in four plays, capped by Buckner’s 4-yard touchdown run on the last play of the first quarter to make it 27-0.

The onslaught continued in the second quarter.

A pass interference penalty allowed East to earn its first first down of the contest. But two plays later, Middleton senior defensive back Kevin Meicher intercepted Roh III at the Middleton 15.

Middleton drove to its own 39 where it faced fourth-and-one and opted to go for it after taking a timeout. Buckner took the handoff, found a small hole, then took off, outracing Jalonzo Jackson to the end zone to make it 34-0.

“(During the timeout) I said to him, “Get the first down, then, after that, see if you can get a touchdown,” Simon said. “Sure enough, it wasn’t a clear sail run of the gate. He had to find his nook to get that first down, and then, when he did, there was a little open seam on the right side and he just took it and went.

“That was a lot of fun for him and the O-line that created the crease for him. For our O-line and D-line that’s where it all starts. When our D-line allows our backers and our DBs to make plays then you know the guys up front are doing something. Our running backs are able to squirt through those seams and hit those big gains that tells you that the offensive line is doing some good things.”

Buckner finished with 146 yards rushing on 11 carries in just one half of action.

Middleton took over again at its own 46 after a 15-yard punt and needed just three plays to score. On an apparent broken play, Carey rolled out of the pocket then fired to junior wide receiver Henry Patterson, who made a leaping 30-yard reception in front of a defender in the end zone to give the Cardinals a 41-0 lead.

“That was actually a broken play,” Carey said. “The field was flung to the right, but I went left and it ended up being pretty good because (Patterson’s) defender was going right with him. I saw the field moving that way and then he made a good cut to the left side of the end zone. I know he’s a big target, real athletic, so I just threw the ball up to him and he made a good catch.”

Said Simon: “Heny’s got a lot of potential. He can run and jump out of the gym and we need a little bit more consistency with him and he’ll find more playing time. That’s what Henry can do, he can jump over the top of people and flat out make a play on the ball. That was a big-time score because it was actually a play-action pass and it was not executed correctly. For Bryce to have the poise to gather himself and for Henry to find a spot in the end zone, that’s making plays. That’s what you ask kids to do is make plays when they have the opportunity and they did.”

Middleton tacked on a field goal when Sawyer Pertzborn connected on a 32-yarder to make it 44-0 as time expired in the half.

The Cardinals capped the scoring in the third quarter when backup quarterback Drew Teff broke through the line on a fourth-and-one play and scored on a 28-yard run. Culp carried eight times for 36 yards on the drive.

Carey, a natural quarterback who filled in at receiver last year when injuries struck, said his experience at a different position has helped him.

“It was a good learning experience playing a different position at a high level and it really actually helped with quarterback because I know what the field looks like as a receiver and then I built a good relationship with those guys which also serves a good purpose,” Carey said.

Carey showed he can be a weapon with his arm and his legs, passing for 124 yards and rushing for 50 yards in the first half.

“He’s got good legs and he can make things happen,” Simon said. “One of the things that Bryce did really well, he can put a lot of velocity on that football and today he was really good with his touch passes. He wasn’t just trying to throw through guys, he was putting that ball in places where our receivers and backs could make some plays. He did a great job of that tonight.”

The only blemishes from the game were some miscommunications and ill-timed penalties. Middleton was penalized six times for 60 yards in the contest.

“We did a lot of good things right, but we’ve still got a lot to improve on,” Carey said.

The Cardinals figure to face a much sterner test when they travel to Verona for their next game on Friday. The Wildcats routed Janesville Parker 40-2 in their season opener.

“Every time we play Verona it’s always a war and we have to be very disciplined on defense,” Simon said. “They typically run a version of the Wing T offense. You have to be really disciplined, they have a very stout defense and it’s hard to get yards against them.

“Coach Pertzborn will do a great job of mixing up the pass with the run and keep them guessing and that’ll be the key to moving the sticks. It’s going to be hard to get big gainers against them, but move the sticks and get some consistency and we’ll hope the special teams can come up big again.”

Simon is also hoping the Cardinals can make a big jump from week 1 to week 2 of the season.

“Coach (Rick) Vander Sanden, our defensive backs coach, always says a lot of seasons the biggest gain is made between week one and week two,” Simon said. “(Week one was) for guys to get the nerves out and now they know what varsity football is like. Whether they’re juniors or seniors, they know the pace of the game. We’re able to watch film specifically now against a different opponent, not just film of us against us, and put a really thorough scouting report together. The opportunity will be there and that’s what we’ll talk about is this is an opportunity to really improve your craft.”

Aug. 17

Middleton 50, Madison East 0

Madison East ……………. 0   0   0   0 — 0

Middleton ………………. 27  17  6  0 — 50

M – Kallion Buckner 1 run (Sawyer Pertzborn kick)

M – Joey Culp 7 run (Pertzborn kick)

M – Jake Klubertanz 18 pass from Bryce Carey (kick failed)

M – Buckner 4 run (Pertzborn kick)

M – Buckner 61 run (Pertzborn kick)

M – Henry Patterson 30 pass from Carey (Pertzborn kick)

M – Pertzborn 32 field goal

M – Drew Teff 28 run (kick failed)



First downs – ME 4, M 13. Rushing (Att-Yds) – ME 23-39, M 43-313. Passing yards – ME 41, M 124. Passing (Att.-Comp.-Int.) – ME 24-10-1, M  8-6-0. Total plays-yards – ME – 50-80, M – 51-437. Fumbles-lost – ME 1-1, M 1-1. Penalties-yards – ME 7-45, M 6-60.


Rushing: ME – Dakarai Clay 20-44. M – Kallion Buckner 11-146, Joey Culp 22-80, Bryce Carey 4-50. Passing: ME – Phil Roh III 24-10-1-41; M – Carey 8-6-0-12. Receiving: ME – Jevan Boyton 2-22. M – Max Schlicht 2-61.


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