RIPON — Their nickname might be the Rockets, but the Wolves would certainly work just as well for the Spencer/Columbus football team.
With one final step to reaching the championship turf at Camp Randall Stadium on the line, Spencer/Columbus, like a pack of wolves, smelled blood and went for the jugular right from the start and cruised to a 50-7 victory over Shoreland Lutheran during the Division 5 state semifinals Friday at Ingalls Field.
The Rockets (13-0) take on Amherst (13-0) for the state title at 4 p.m. Thursday in Madison.
“We feel great about getting to state, but we’re still hungry yet,” S/C coach Jason Gorst said. “Our backs had great vision tonight and they were patient reading their blocks and they did the rest on their own.”
Added senior quarterback Calvin Lenz, “This is something we’ve wanted since we started playing football in third grade. It’s a great feeling. All year long we wanted to get back to Level 3 and whatever happens after that happens. When we started playing well, we realized that state is possible and it’s just unreal, especially your senior year.”
The Rockets defense set the tone of the game forcing Shoreland Lutheran into a 3-and-out on its first possession.
Sophomore running back Hunter Luepke got the S/C offense rolling by scoring on a 14-yard run and scored the conversion run for an 8-0 lead with 7 minutes, 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Rockets would score on their next six possessions, including the next five in the first half to put the game into running time to start the third quarter.
The S/C defense was so dominant that it limited the Pacers’ high-powered offense to just 70 yards in the first half.
Spencer/Columbus had a whopping 397 yards on the ground and 55 through the air for 452 total yards. The Pacers would finish with 183 total yards.
Accounting for 174 yards of rushing on just eight touches was junior running back Noah Zastrow, who had the longest play of the game, a 78-yard scamper in the first quarter to put the Rockets up 16-0 late in the first quarter.
“Our coaches gave us a good game plan and the line opened up some big holes and we were able to make big plays,” Zastrow said. “Every TD starts with the line. Every run they give us five or six yards before we have to do anything.”
With a 44-0 lead at the half, Gorst put his substitutes in to start the third quarter and the second team capped a 66-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown by Jon Bauer.
Shoreland was able to avoid the shutout when Jakob Thut scored on a 49-yard run in the third quarter.
“They’ve been stopping teams during the playoffs,” Zastrow said. “We executed a great game plan and now that we’re going to state for the first time in our co-op’s history, it’s a great feeling.”
Shoreland Lutheran, a No. 5 seed like Spencer/Columbus was last year, beat Brookfield Academy, top-seeded Cedar Grove/Belgium and Marshall to reach the state semifinals.
“It was a great team effort tonight,” Gorst said. “It’s a great feeling for our program to be making our first trip to state.”
S/C – Hunter Luepke 14 run (Luepke run), 7:48
S/C – Noah Zastrow (Luepke run), 2:55
S/C – Austin Post 5 pass from Calvin Lenz (Run failed), 11:53
S/C – Elijah Welsh 1 run (Jonny Tomke run), 5:07
S/C – Tomke 50 pass from Lenz (Luepke run), 4:57
S/C – Lenz 16 run (Luepke run), 2:17
S/C – Jon Bauer 5 run (Kick failed), 6:09
SL – Jakob Thut 49 run (Ethan Wollerkick), 2:57
Records: Spencer/Columbus 13-0; Shoreland Lutheran 10-3.
Mark Massoglia can be reached at 715-423-7200, ext. 4736 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @markmazzy