WIAA football: Roncalli 1 game away from State

WIAA football: Roncalli 1 game away from State


WIAA football: Roncalli 1 game away from State



That is the number of days since the Roncalli football team (12-0) has left the field without a victory.

The last time the No. 1 seeded Jets lost was in last year’s WIAA State Football Division 4 Level 2 matchup against Lakeside Lutheran, 14-6 on Oct. 26. Since then, Roncalli has outscored its opponents 410-71 and Friday’s 18-13 win over Freedom was the only time this season the Jets have won by less than 14 points.

Roncalli coach Ray Baranczyk, though, has throughout the course of the season been focused on the next game and the next opponent while leaving the past in the past. He’s more concerned about allowing his players to create their own legacy, which could further be cemented should the Jets knock off No. 3 Platteville (8-4) in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. tonight in Watertown.

“It feels pretty sweet,” said Jets running back/defensive back Nick Stelzer said when asked about reaching Level 4. “(Roncalli has) never made it this far in the WIAA playoffs and it just feels good to create your own legacy and make it this far.”

Despite the disparity in records, Stelzer knows the Hillmen won’t just hand Roncalli a place in the state final.

“We know (Platteville) will be tough,” Stelzer said. “They’re big and the last few teams we’ve played have been pretty quick so we’re going to have to hopefully use our speed to get past these guys. We have to come ready.”

Unlike the Jets, the Hillmen got off to a bumpy start to the season, opening 1-3 before winning seven of their last eight. What makes Platteville’s record a little deceiving is two of their losses came at the hands of Lancaster, the No. 1 team in the Division 5 state coaches poll.

“Platteville plays really stout defense,” Baranczyk said. “…It’s going to be a challenge, it’ll be played on the line of scrimmage.”

Platteville is led offensively by senior running back William Cooley, who has 1,730 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns this season. Cooley is such an important cog in the Hillmen offense, he carries the ball nearly 75 percent of the time a run is called.

Roncalli’s offense is much more diverse, with Joey Macdonald (1,242), Alex Deets (569) and Stelzer (529) accounting for 2,340 of the Jets 3,294 yards on the ground. It’s this type of running back-by-committee approach that provides problems for opposing defenses.

Another addition to Roncalli’s offense has been the emergence of quarterback Jared Patek. Patek wasn’t called upon much this season due to the overwhelming efficiency of the Jets ground game but has come alive in the last two games.

Against Little Chute in Level 2, he completed 8-of-14 for 125 yards before having possibly his best game of the season versus Freedom, throwing for 167 yards and rushing for another 71.

“I’ve said all year Jared is capable of these performances,” Baranczyk said about the recent play of his quarterback. “We just haven’t needed him to throw the ball as much because of the dominance of our run game.”

Patek’s counterpart for Platteville, Logan Butson, has thrown for nearly double as many yards as Patek, 1,423-713, despite averaging nearly three yards less per completion than Patek at 7.7-10.5, respectively, on 116 more attempts.

Butson also has the edge in touchdowns with 15 compared to Patek’s five, although the Roncalli signal caller is rarely called upon to throw near the goal line in favor of one of the Jets’ big backs.

“There’s no rhyme or reason when or (Platteville will) throw the football,” Baranczyk added. “It doesn’t have to neccesarily be down or distance and they seem to like to throw the ball. …You think with a kid that has run for 1,700 yards he’s going to be the focus of the offense, but we need to be prepared for their passing attack.”

Baranczyk knows, though, his team’s running game will be the key to a Jets victory.

“If we’re able to get a block on their safeties with our pulling lineman we might be able to break a couple big runs,” Baranczyk said.

If everything goes according to plan for Roncalli, the streak will reach 391 and the Jets will be playing for a state championship Thursday in Madison.


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