from today's Waukesha Freeman --
Editorial comment -- This article makes up for the odd, previous article.
DIVISION 3 SEMIFINALS
Crusaders run over Comets
Offensive line makes room for Karczewski to run
By Chris Patterson Freeman Correspondent
WALES – A dozen or so basic running plays. Five overpowering offensive linemen. One bruising workhorse of a running back. It’s been a predictable, yet lethal, combination for the Catholic Memorial High School football team throughout the WIAA playoffs. On Saturday, it helped propel the Crusaders all the way to Camp Randall as Memorial advanced to the WIAA Division 3 state championship game with a 30-20 victory over Delavan-Darien in a semifinal game held at Kettle Moraine High School.
Memorial (11-2) will take on undefeated West De Pere at 10 a.m. Friday in Madison in search of the school’s fifth state title, but what would be its first since the WIAA absorbed the nowdefunct Wisconsin Independent Schools Athletic Association following the 1999-2000 school year.
“These kids weren’t going to be denied today,” Young said. “It was just a lot of hard work and I can’t say enough about the character of these kids. “We had to battle through some real good teams to get here, no doubt about it. But like the old adage says – it’s not necessarily the best team that wins, but the team that is playing the best.”
West De Pere (13-0) advanced Saturday with a 24-13 victory over previously undefeated Appleton Xavier. The Phantoms will be the third No. 1 regional seed that Memorial will have to face in the tournament – the other two being Delavan-Darien, which finished 12-1, and Memorial’s second-round victim, Plymouth.
Memorial senior fullback Pete Karczewski, who came in averaging 196 yards rushing per game in the playoffs, turned it up more than just a notch against the Comets, rushing for a career-high 308 yards on 50 carries. As a team, the Crusaders ran 70 times for 373 yards and, as a result, enjoyed a 33:46-14:14 advantage in time of possession. “All the credit has to go the kids,” Young said. “It was just a phenomenal effort by our offensive line and Karczewski. “We’ve just been riding our offensive line all the way through.”
After rushing for 1,059 yards on 173 carries during the nine-game regular season, Karczewski has rushed for an additional 895 yards on 119 attempts in the playoffs. Not only has his yards per-carry average gone up from the regular season to the playoffs (6.1 to 7.5), but also his team’s reliance on him. After personally accounting for 39.8 percent of Memorial’s total yards in the regular season, Karczewski has been responsible for 69.5 percent of his team’s yards in the playoffs. “I really have to give it up for those guys on the offensive line,” Karczewski said.
Doing the dirty work up front for Karczewski have been senior tackles Zach Degner and Nick Olson, senior guards Eric Alfuth and Matt Baldwin and junior center Caleb Krause. Averaging just over 6-foot-1 and 260 pounds per player, the CMH offensive line was simply too much to handle for a Delavan-Darien defensive front that averaged just over 5-foot-11 and 224 pounds per player.
Memorial needed just four plays and 88 seconds to go 65 yards for the game’s first points as Karczewski turned a simple off-tackle play to the left into a breakaway run and a 39-yard touchdown. On their next two series, the Crusaders drove 71 and 50 yards, respectively, but had to settle for field goals of 20 and 21 yards by senior Chris Colombe when both drives stalled inside the Comets’ 5-yard line.
Leading 13-0 with 5:47 remaining in the first half, Memorial enjoyed lopsided advantages in plays from scrimmage (25-13), total yards (186-36), first downs (9-1) and time of possession (13:35-4:38). However, it took Delavan-Darien just one play to get back in the game as senior quarterback Austin Fritzinger took a keeper down the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown run on the first play of the Comets’ fourth possession to cut Memorial’s lead to 13-7 by halftime.
The quick score served as a harsh reminder to the Crusaders that the game was not over – a lesson many of Memorial’s players learned the hard way a year ago in a heartbreaking 16-13 last-second state semifinal loss to Reedsburg. Memorial opened the second half against Delavan-Darien with a 57-yard drive that resulted in a 30-yard field goal by Colombe and a 16-7 CMH advantage. However, Memorial’s only turnover of the game – an interception at its own 32 – led to a 27-yard touchdown pass from senior running back Justin Fowlkes to senior wide receiver Marcus McLin that cut the Crusaders’ lead to just 16-14 with 1:11 remaining in the third quarter.
The Crusaders responded immediately with an eightplay, 61-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run by junior running back Charlie Walsh and a 23-14 Memorial advantage with 10:01 to play in the fourth quarter. That’s when the Memorial defense took over, forcing turnovers on the Comets’ next three possessions – the last of which was an interception by Walsh at the Delavan-Darien 25 that led to Memorial’s final gameclinching score, a 2-yard touchdown run by Karczewski with 3:46 to play.