Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Playing against bigger foes prepares CMH well

from today's Waukesha Freeman --

DIVISION 3 FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS:

CMH 35
Plymouth 0

Playing against bigger foes prepares CMH well
Crusaders, Wisco to meet in state quarterfinals
By Chris Patterson Freeman Correspondent

WAUKESHA – Playing for the smallest school in the Classic 8 Conference, the Catholic Memorial High School football team is certainly used to having to deal with all the disadvantages that come with battling the big boys each week. On Saturday, the Crusaders got to reap one of the few benefits from their demanding schedule. Despite finishing third in the Classic 8, Memorial completely outclassed, outmuscled and outplayed the best that the Eastern Wisconsin Conference had to offer – soundly defeating Plymouth 35-0 in a WIAA Division 3 second-round playoff game at Carroll University’s Schneider Stadium.

Memorial, 9-2 overall, next will take on Wisconsin Lutheran in a Division 3 quarterfinal game 4 p.m. Saturday at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Wisco, also 9-2, advanced with a 55-17 drubbing of Milwaukee Lutheran on Saturday. “Sometimes you can really get beat up playing in our league, but it’s just huge if you can get to a position where you can make it to the tournament,” Memorial coach Bill Young said.

While Memorial’s enrollment of 747 students is by far the smallest in the Classic 8 and less than half the average (1,505) of the conference’s seven other schools, Plymouth has the largest enrollment (804) of any Eastern Wisconsin member school. The Panthers, who went 7-0 in conference and finished 9-2 overall, had allowed a total of only 41 combined points in their seven conference games. The Crusaders nearly did that all by themselves and, without a running clock for the final 4:39, might have done it.

The Crusaders’ defensive and offensive lines set the tone from the start. After Plymouth was held to just three net yards on a quick three-and-out series to open the contest, Memorial made the most of its first possession – marching 62 yards in 10 plays and scoring the only points it would need on a 3-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Pete Karczewski. The next time Karczewski touched the ball – following a fumble recovery by Memorial senior defensive end Cody Gardetto – the 5-11, 195-pound workhorse went 44 yards for a touchdown to give the Crusaders a 13-0 lead just 8:37 into the contest as the extra point was missed.

It was the kind of start the Crusaders were lacking four days earlier when they edged Pewaukee 14-13 despite not picking up a first down until their fifth offensive series. “We came out pretty lethargic against Pewaukee, so we knew it was important today to get off to a quick start,” Young said. “Pewaukee was a great team, but we felt we just didn’t have it that night.” Behind his massive offensive line of senior tackles Zach Degner (6-2, 277) and Nick Olson (6-2, 260), senior guards Eric Alfuth (6-1, 250) and Matt Baldwin (6-0, 247) and junior center Caleb Krause (6-2, 270), Karczewski enjoyed his best game of the season – rushing for 213 yards on 24 carries and scoring three touchdowns. “Our offensive line was just phenomenal throughout the entire game,” Karczewski. “They just kept pushing forward and it really showed with the yardage we had.”

As a team, the Crusaders rushed for 332 yards on 46 attempts – an average of 7.2 yards per carry. Memorial’s all-senior defensive line of Gardetto, David Hodorowski, Connor Sauer, Ryan Lau and Kyle Matyas also dominated – combining for eight solo tackles and 15 assists. As a result, Memorial’s linebackers (four solos, 10 assists) and secondary (nine solos, four assists) only had to pick up the pieces. “Our defense was just manhandling them the whole game,” Karczewski said.

The Panthers converted just one of their first 10 third-down opportunities. The Crusaders also intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble, giving them 30 takeaways this season as opposed to only 12 giveaways. Going back to the second quarter of the Pewaukee game, the Crusaders have not allowed a score of any kind in 15 consecutive possessions – forcing five turnovers and turning the ball over on downs four other times.

Leading 13-0 at halftime, Memorial scored on its first two series of the second half – getting a 37-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Dominic Zanoni to senior running back Broc Kocour to finish a seven-play, 70-yard march, then getting a 5-yard touchdown run from Karczewski to finish off a four-play, 29-yard drive that was set up on an interception by sophomore defensive back Matt Hubley. Memorial junior running back Connor Heinlein finished the scoring with his first touchdown of the season – a 23-yard scamper as the Crusaders were trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers advanced the ball into CMH territory on four of their 10 series and got as far as the Memorial 19 on a second-quarter drive that stalled when Matyas threw Plymouth senior quarterback Mitch Unger for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-one play with 33 seconds to play in the first half.

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