It really wasn’t what anyone was expecting.
North Crawford’s head football coach, Brandon Munson, was initially hesitant to even schedule the game with Milwaukee Bradley Tech, following the cancellation of his team’s Saturday non-conference game by Washburn-Bayfield.
Sure, Tech had an open date on its calendar and as of last Monday so did North Crawford. However, the Milwaukee school has more than 1,100 students and the local high school has less than 150. Tech is in Division 2 and North Crawford is in Division 7.
Despite some initial misgivings, Munson changed his mind and agreed to play Tech. Nevertheless by Friday, the coach was wondering if he’d made the right decision. Could his team matchup with the size and speed of the Milwaukee team or would they be blown out?
“We really didn’t know what to expect going into the game on Saturday,” Munson said.
By halftime as the rain began, it became apparent that there might indeed be a blowout, but the amazing thing about it was that it looked like it just might be Milwaukee Bradley Tech that was blown out. The North Crawford Trojans led 32-8 as the headed to the locker room.
The rain intensified during halftime and continued through the second half. Tech scored first in the third quarter to make the score 32-14 as they missed the two-point conversion.
Almost immediately, North Crawford replied with a touchdown on 50-yard run by running back Braden Baumeister. It was his third touchdown of the game. With Jacob Salmon’s successful run for the two-point conversion North Crawford had a 40-14 lead.
Baumeister scored another touchdown early in the fourth quarter and Salmon again ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 48-14. Although Tech trailed by 34 points, they refused to quit. The Milwaukee team scored two more touchdowns and one two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, while North Crawford also scored another touchdown. When the smoke cleared, the North Crawford Trojans had soundly defeated the Milwaukee Bradley Tech Trojans 54-28 to almost everyone’s surprise.
Afterward, the Trojans from both teams enjoyed a barbecue moved to the school’s cafeteria because of the rain. The barbecue, arranged by North Crawford Athletic Director Dave Bergum, seemed to be what players from both teams needed after a second half played in a steady rain.
Players from both teams talked with each other and exchanged cellphone numbers and the rest. They were football players from the big city and football players from the hills of southwest Wisconsin, but Saturday afternoon it was probably most important that they were football players, who had just played a hard-fought game in the rain.
So how was the game?
“It was fun!” coach Munson said Monday morning. It was definitely one of our better games of the season. The team is responding to the idea of getting off to quicker start.”
For the game, Branden Baumeister ran for 221 yards and four touchdowns with his longest coming on a 50-yard run. The junior North Crawford running back remains the leading rusher in the state (for all divisions) with 1,412 yards on just 122 carries in six games. That’s averaging 11.57 yards per carry.
Baumeister got some help from fellow running back Jacob Salmon, who ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Salmon also added four two-point conversions, while Baumeister had two.
North Crawford fullback also helped the cause as he ran for 41 yards and scored a touchdown.
Defensively, North Crawford was led by cornerback Eric friar and Corey Spencer, who each had five solo tackles. Nick Gillespie, Austin Abbey and Casey Spencer each had four solo tackles.
North Crawford’s emerging passing game was about non-existent Saturday. Hank Schellhorn tried one pass into the end zone on a third down play in the second half and it was broken up by a Tech defender. However, Tech was called for roughing the passer and unsportsmanlike conduct for a late hit on Schellhorn. They were penalized half the distance to the goal and with the paly firs and goal; North Crawford was unable to punch it in for another touchdown.
The hardest hits of the game may have been delivered by nose tackle Noah Brown when he returned an onside kick for six yards. As coach Munson yelled for Brown to get the ball on the ground, the 289-pound lineman ran straight at his tech opponents breaking one tackle, then banging into a similarly sized lineman sending him backwards before another Tech player had the presence of mind to go low and wrap his legs to bring him down. It was the most exciting six yards of the game gained by either team.
Neither team was used to the offensive style used by the other team. While Tech has used the shotgun and spread with multiple receivers in previous games this season and North Crawford prepared for it, Tech never threw a single pass in the entire game. Instead, the Milwaukee school used an I-set offense with a lot of option pitches. Munson acknowledged later it was not an offense seen in the Ridge and valley conference very often. It is also not run by athletes the quality of the running back and quarter back from Tech.
On the other hand, Munson explained that Tech doesn’t see offenses like the double wing employed by North Crawford.
“Neither defense played against an offense they were used to seeing,” Munson said.
The north Crawford coach told his assistants the game might come down to who had the ball last. However, big turnovers by Tech in the firs half set up the big early lead by North Crawford,
“They were a great team and they played hard to the final whistle,” Munson said of Tech. “It was certainly our most physical game of the year and we came away with our share of bumps and bruises.
Of curse, Munson had to acknowledge the contribution of Baumeister, who scored four to the team’s seven touchdowns.
Next up for North Crawford is Kickapoo-LaFarge on the road this Friday night. Despite the bruising game with Tech Saturday, Munson reported no players are injured and expects the entire team to be suited up and ready to play.
Kickapoo-LaFarge behind a massive line got the better of North Crawford last season as they wore them down in the second half. However, the large line was made up almost entirely of seniors, who graduated last year. So while the quarterback and running backs returned the massive line is gone and things could be different this year. Regardless, Munson said the defense would still focus on the Predators’ fullback who presents a challenge to most teams.