Painful ending for football Cards

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Bill Cooney/Special to the Times-Tribune
Elijah Gray and Middleton's football team went 3-3 this spring./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

SUN PRAIRIE – With all due respect to Merriam-Webster, there are certain entries in the dictionary that are better defined by pictures. 

“Frustrating” is one of them.  

And no image would have been more appropriate for such an adjective than watching the Middleton prep football team’s offense trot from field to bench late in the third quarter at Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium at Ashley Field on Friday night. 

One by one, the Cardinals trudged forward, their heads hung and spirits crushed, doing their best to muster up the energy to overcome those “feelings of anger and annoyance.” 

For the second game in less than a month against rival Sun Prairie, Middleton couldn’t consistently sustain any momentum on offense. And unlike last time, its defense couldn’t hold up, either. 

Middleton totaled just 97 yards, giving up 38 unanswered points in a 38-14 defeat that put a cap on a frustrating, COVID-19 shortened spring season.  

“Some of these guys, I’ve been with since fourth grade,” senior receiver Bryce Hensen said afterward. “We didn’t even know we’d have a season this year. Couldn’t have asked for anything more.” 

Yes, there are positives.  

Middleton (3-3), which recently had what would have been its final game this week canceled, ended the season by playing a bevy of sophomores and juniors. And many of those players gained quality experience against top competition. 

And as Hensen said, the senior class, which includes captains Taylor Simmons, Michael Gustafson, Nolan Dunn and Coleton Rogeberg, at least had the opportunity to compete. 

Middleton did take a 7-0 lead, converting on an early turnover when senior quarterback Sawyer Pertzborn found Hensen on a 25-yard score. Hensen caught the pass around the 10-yard line, snuck around his defender while tiptoeing the sideline to reach the end zone early in the first quarter. 

“We just have a connection,” Hensen said of he and Pertzborn, his fellow senior. “I saw that ball coming my way, I had a guy on my back. I just wanted to catch it, hold on to it. He fell down and then I just had to reach into the end zone and get seven for my team.

“We thought we were in control, things were going our way. And then the tables just turned.” 

Did they ever. 

Both teams traded possessions in a highly intense first quarter that came to a boiling point at the 2-minute mark.  

That’s when Middleton senior Cole Yanke and Sun Prairie senior Carter Wambach turned some competitive jabber into a fistfight on the field. After both players were separated, play was stopped for 5 to 10 minutes while both teams huddled and cooled off. Yanke and Wambach were ejected. 

“It’s the last game, people are stressed out with how things went all year, frustrated,” Middleton coach Jason Pertzborn said. “I think it’s just an accumulation of that. I heard a ruckus and I turn around and I see two guys throwing punches at each other.” 

Said Sun Prairie coach Brian Kaminski: “It’s a great high school rivalry. There’s a lot of respect between these two schools. I know emotions ran a little high at the beginning, but everybody knew it was the last night; there’s no playoffs. So I think that led to a little bit of that.” 

Sun Prairie (6-0) tied the game in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by 260-pound sophomore fullback Jayallen Dayne, the son of University of Wisconsin Heisman winner, Ron.  

On Middleton’s next possession, Pertzborn had a second-down pass tipped and intercepted by junior Davis Hamilton. Sun Prairie took the lead on the next play from scrimmage, as senior quarterback Brady Stevens hit sophomore John Vande Walle on a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7.  

Sun Prairie kicker Owen Konopacki drilled a 48-yard field goal with room to spare with 26 second left in the first half to give his team a 17-7 lead.  

Middleton went three-and-out on its first second-half possession, as Pertzborn was sacked on third-and-6. Sun Prairie quickly capitalized as sophomore quarterback Jerry Kaminski scored on a 28-yard run to make it 24-7. 

“Their defense is one of the best in the state,” Hensen said. “Their D-Line is crazy. They’ve got some big boys up there. Strong, and they get push up front. Our O-Line knew they had a challenge in front of them and they did their best. Couldn’t have asked for anymore from them.” 

Other than an occasional burst in the running game, Middleton couldn’t sustain much in the second half. 

Sun Prairie scored on a 4-yard pass late in the third to put the game away. Middleton then had another three-and-out, which ended on a deflected punt. That’s when the Cardinals’ long, somber walk on the sideline summed up the evening. 

In two games against Sun Prairie this season, Middleton totaled just 17 points and 282 yards. 

“It seemed like we were doing OK and then we just hit a brick wall,” Jason Pertzborn said. “And it was like one step forward, two steps back. A penalty, a bad snap, a fumble, whatever. We were always in second-and-long, third-and-long, and we’re not built for that stuff. We’re more of a running football team. We just couldn’t get it going.”  

 

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

Sun Prairie ………………. 0  17  14  7 — 38  

First Quarter 

M – Hensen 25 pass from Pertzborn (Pertzborn kick), 11:00 

Second Quarter 

SP – Dayne 1 run (Konopacki kick), 7:46 

SP – Vande Walle 15 pass from Stevens (Konopacki kick), 7:29 

SP – Konopacki FG 48, :26 

Third Quarter 

SP – Kaminski 28 run (Konopacki kick), 8:36 

SP – Ostrenga 4 pass from Kaminski (Konopacki kick), 1:12 

Fourth Quarter 

SP – Gothard 4 pass from Stevens (Konopacki kick), 7:07

M -- Ballweg 8 run (Pertzborn kick), 1:57

 

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs — M 8, SP 11. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — M 28-56, SP 34-117. Passing yards — M 41, SP 167. Passing (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — M 8-25-1, SP 12-23-0. Penalties-yards — M 8-72, SP 11-120. Fumbles-lost — M 0-0, SP 2-1. 

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing (Att.-Yds) — M: Ballweg 6-37; SP: Kaminski 5-37, Dayne 10-24. Passing (Att.-Comp.-Int.-Yds) — M: Pertzborn 8-25-1-41; SP: Kaminski 7-10-0-115. Receiving (Att.-Yds) — M: Hensen 1-25; SP: Vande Walle 5-103. 

 

 

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