STEVENS POINT — Sometimes another coach can offer better insight to the performance turned in by your football team on a particular night.
So when 43-year veteran Southern Door assistant coach Bill Aune offered an unsolicited assessment of Amherst, coach Mark Lusic had every reason to be filled with pride.
The Falcons had just finished off a 48-27 dismantling of Southern Door in a Division 5 state quarterfinal at Community Stadium on Friday night that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might suggest.
“(Aune) was saying, ‘You are one physical team you have smart football players, that’s a huge compliment,” Lusic said. “I told our guys that’s huge compliment. You’re just not football players, you’re smart.”
A win that earns the Falcons (12-0) a state semifinal date with unbeaten Arcadia, a 34-15 winner over Stanley-Boyd. This marks the fourth straight season Amherst has at least reached the state semis.
“WIAA makes the rules, we just play whoever they give us,” the Amherst coach said. “You’re going to play some great teams. I think Southern Door is a great team. Arcadia is a heck of a team you’re going to have to go through some great teams. We’ll be ready.”
There was never a doubt the Falcons, who scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, would be playing again next week.
The Eagles (9-3) enjoyed a distinct size advantage up front, but that was where the high football IQ of the Falcons, especially in the trenches, was evident.
Junior running back Brandon Piotrowski, who gained 132 yards on 16 carries with four touchdowns, spent most of the night running through gaping holes at the line of scrimmage.
“We knew we were coming in playing a great team, we knew they had a lot of beef in the middle, and we just kind of wanted to shove it down their throats,” Piotrowski said. “The line did an excellent job again tonight and I had some massive holes up the middle.”
Southern Door also learned the Falcons can play some pretty stifling defense too.
Mitchell Gerend, a 6-foot-3 senior and Al Toon Award finalist as one of the top five prep receivers in the state, was locked down by an Amherst secondary aided by a relentless pass rush.
Gerend had just four receptions for a paltry 26 yards in the opening half. The Eagles were only able to generate 86 yards of total offense over the opening 24 minutes.
Quarterback Nick LaCaptain was picked off three times. By midway through the second quarter the Eagles players were taking their helmets off and hanging their heads.
“I never thought that would happen,” said Lusic of building a commanding 48-0 lead at the break. “It was a heck of job by the guys. We had pressure all day and they kept two guys in (to help pass block) and still had a hard time protecting.
“It was a great win.”
This was one of those cases where the statistics did tell the whole story. Amherst racked up 380 yards of offense in the first half, including 255 yards on the ground.
Senior quarterback Garrett Groshek was the maestro. The preeminent dual-threat QB in the area got loose for a 55-yard scoring run in the first quarter to demonstrate his running skills.
Groshek, who completed 9-of-16 passes for 155 yards, then showed off his arm the rest of the half. He connected with Mitchell Glodowski on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
He later hit Josh Cisewski, who a move that left three would-be tacklers grabbing at air, with what turned out to be a 60-yard TD pass.
“It feels great I mean just moving on in the playoffs,” Piotrowski said. “This feels amazing and hopefully we can make it to state after this.”
A – Brandon Piotrowski 9 run (Cameron Gaulke kick), 7:08
A – Garrett Groshek 55 run (Gaulke kick), 6:41
A – Piotrowski 9 run (Gaulke kick), 3:25
A – Piotrowski 25 run (Gaulke kick), 9:49
A – Piotrowski 1 run (kick blocked), 5:17
A – Mitchell Glodowski 11 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 4:53
A – Josh Cisewski 60 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 3:00
SD – Nick LaCaptain 55 run (Andrew Montana kick), 5:06
SD – Tory Jandrin 2 run (Montana kick), 9:32
SD – LaCaptain 37 run (Montana kick), 3:28
SD – Deven McCarty 18 pass from Kyle Daoust (no kick), :04
Records: Amherst 12-0; Southern Door 9-3.
—Scott A. Williams can be reached at 715-345-2282, or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter as @SPJScottWill