DARLINGTON – On the day Darlington High School honored the 1991 state championship team, the current version of the Redbirds locked up something that team didn’t get– a conference title.
Now, the 2011 Redbirds want to figure out a way to get what the ‘91 team did get– a gold ball.
Senior fullback Seth Rowe rushed for 314 yards and six touchdowns as the Redbirds captured their third consecutive Southwestern Wisconsin Activities League championship with a 55-25 rout over Fennimore at Martens Field on Friday, Oct. 14.
“Winning the conference championship this year is something significant. Not many people gave us a chance to compete for the conference crown this year,” said Darlington head coach Scott Zywicki. “These young men have done everything that (the coaches) have asked of them. They work hard in practice and conditioning, and they prepare well. I hope that they understand the significance of their accomplishment.”
Darlington (7-2 overall, 7-0 in the SWAL) scored on eight of their nine possessions on the day– their lone scoreless drive happening at the end of the first half when they took a knee after forcing a punt with 12 seconds remaining- while rolling up 475 yards of offense, including 407 yards on the ground.
“I thought our offense did a remarkable job controlling the line of scrimmage. Our line really dominated the front eight from Fennimore,” Zywicki stated.
Rowe scored on runs of seven, five, seven and one in the first half to carry the Redbirds to a 26-12 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Redbird senior added TD runs of five and 27 yards to push the advantage to 47-18 with 37 seconds to play in the third quarter. Rowe ran the ball just three times in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with a career-high 314 yards on 35 carries to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
In seven conference games, Rowe has run for 1,028 yards and 17 TDs.
“Seth Rowe had a great game and really ran hard. It was nice to get him over 1,000 yards for the season,” noted Zywicki. “The line did a great job of getting to their blocks and maintaining them. Everyone in the stands knew who was getting the ball, and we still were able to execute. That’s a tribute to the entire offense.”
Senior receiver Brandon Hardyman hauled in his seventh TD catch of the year on a 6-yard scoring strike from senior quarterback Zach McArthur in the third quarter, while back-up Chase Tuescher lived every offensive lineman’s dream by returning a fumble seven yards to pay dirt late in the fourth quarter to close the scoring for the ‘Birds.
Senior Tyler Black tallied 50 yards on five carries for the ‘Birds, and McArthur added 14 rushing yards on four carries and completed 3-of-6 passes for 68 yards and a score.
Opening up the holes for the running backs for much of the day were guards Eli Humphrey and A.J. Brandt, tackles John Sturtz and Hayden Black, center Christen Ruf and tight end Michael Ruf, while the backs all did a nice job of blocking for one another all game.
Senior quarterback Everette Schwer did all he could to keep the Golden Eagles (2-7, 2-5) in the game, scoring on a pair of 1-yard runs in the first half and adding a nifty 54-yard scoring jaunt in the third quarter. But, Schwer went just 2-for-14 for 44 yards through the air and tossed two interceptions– both to Hardyman– which led to two Rowe TD runs.
Fennimore’s Seth Henkel capped the scoring with a late 10-yard run.
Darlington, which received the top seed in their region, kicks off the WIAA Division 5 playoffs by hosting Cambridge (7-2) in a Level 1 game at Martens Field on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 3 p.m.
Fennimore… 6 6 6 7 - 25
Darlington… 13 13 21 8 - 55
D – Seth Rowe, 7 run (Zach McArthur kick)
F – Schwer, 1 run (kick failed)
D – Rowe, 5 run (kick failed)
D – Rowe, 7 run (run failed)
F – Schwer, 1 run (run kick)
D – Rowe, 1 run (McArthur kick)
D – Rowe, 5 run (McArthur kick)
F – Schwer, 54 run (run failed)
D – Brandon Hardyman, 6 pass from McArthur (Michael Ruf pass from Mitchell Whalen)
D – Rowe, 27 run (kick failed)
D – Chase Tuescher, 7 fumble return (Storm Wiegel)
F – Henkel, 10 run (Hertrampf kick)
Team Stats: First Downs- F 13; D 21. Rushing- F 34-205; D 53-407. Passing- F 2-14-2, 54; D 3-7-1, 81. Fumbles-Lost- F 1; D 0. Penalties- F 8-41, D 5-60.
Darlington Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)- Seth Rowe 35-314-6. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)- Zach McArthur, 3-6-0-1, 68. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)- Brandon Hardyman, 2-33-1.