The Laconia High School football team made a resounding statement on Friday night’s WIAA first-round playoff game against Greendale Martin Luther: it is not a one-man team.
Behind an offensive line that was simply too big and too strong for the visitors, Laconia amassed 437 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-13 win.
The Spartans will play Racine St. Catherine’s at a time, date and location to be announced later.
Laconia coach Mark Madigan knows things will get tougher next week, but he had no real qualms with his team on Friday.
“We came off the ball hard. It was great to see us execute the way we did offensively,” Madigan said. “And defensively, especially against a team that has that much breakaway speed as I’ve seen on film … we did a very solid job on both sides of the ball.”
Levin Vande Berg led the Laconia charge with 189 yards on nine carries. Cody Moon didn’t have a carry in the second half but still finished with 124 yards on 13 attempts and fullback Jesse Tipton chipped in 81 yards and four touchdowns, as Martin Luther was powerless regardless of who was in the backfield.
“That’s the biggest thing — hitting the holes fast, and the holes were there,” Madigan said.
The holes were always there and they were usually wide. Laconia found its best success going to the right side behind guard Dustin Perkins, tackle Kyle Turner and tight end Silas Davis, but it really didn’t matter which direction the home team went.
Perkins said he knew immediately he and his comrades would have success.
“Right away from the first snap,” Perkins said. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but when I saw them I got confidence.”
While the off-tackle plays consistently picked up big chunks of yardage, Laconia got its points early when Martin Luther sold out on stopping Moon. On the team’s second and third possessions, Tipton took a hand off and simply busted up the gut on a dive play with nobody coming close to stopping him for scores from 32 and 25 yards.
“It felt great. When you have a back like Cody, people key on him and that opens up plays for other backs,” Tipton said.
“They did an excellent job,” he added about the offensive line. “They got their blocks manned up and took advantage of their size. We pounded the ball and when we do well, we pound the ball.”
Martin Luther had two long touchdown runs when it was able to utilize the speed that had worried Madigan, but Laconia put the finishing touches on its highest scoring playoff game ever midway through the third quarter.
Vande Berg ran five times for 75 yards on the drive, and Tipton finished the deal by battling through two attempted tackles and reaching the end zone standing up for a fourth time.