LANCASTER - With a convincing 34-3 victory over visiting Durand last Saturday afternoon in a Division 5 Level III playoff contest, it was obvious once again that the Lancaster Flying Arrows truly are in a league of their own.
Lancaster dominated both sides of the ball against the obviously overmatched Panthers, who were visibly spent midway through the second quarter and left with little energy in a lopsided battle.
The win improved coach John Hoch’s squad to a record of 11-0, and puts them back in Middleton this Saturday afternoon playing for another trip to state.
Things may have started off a little slow for the Arrows last Saturday, but in true champion fashion, they put together another impressive victory to keep their season alive.
Wile Lancaster’s offensive has been receiving a lot of praise this season, it was the performance of the defense that got noticed last Saturday.
Against a team that averaged 30 points per game coming into Saturday’s contest, the Flying Arrow defense held their opponent to just 27 yards rushing on 39 attempts, and only allowed them to cross midfield once in the entire second half.
“I thought our defense played outstanding, and I just couldn’t be more happy, because they had the biggest challenge that they’ve had of the year,” said coach John Hoch. “It was a great defensive performance by our kids.”
Particularly impressive for the Arrows was senior defensive end Aaron Mahr, who recorded six sacks on quarterback Jake Weber and appeared as if he couldn’t be blocked.
Mahr though, normally splits time with starters Phil Zenz and Ryan Heberlein at defensive end, but on Saturday proved to be an unstoppable force.
“He’s been in there on passing situations, and he just had a day,” Hoch said of Mahr. “He was hot, so he stayed in longer.”
“Honestly he just got in there and created havoc, which he’s done for us all year.”
With the running game averaging just 0.7 yards per attempt against a stingy Lancaster defense, the Panthers completed 11-of-22 passing attempts for 141 yards.
Durand converted on 7-of-17 third-down attempts and 1-of-2 fourth-down attempts, and was forced to punt seven times throughout the contest.
Lancaster’s offense was much more potent despite starting the game with a four-and-out, then an interception on their second possession of the game.
When all was said and done, the Flying Arrows managed 322 yards rushing on 39 attempts, while quarterback A.J. Day completed 4-of-6 passing attempts for 119 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Day also led the team on the ground with 139 yards rushing and two TDs on 13 attempts for an average of 10.7 yards per carry.
Day first scored in the second quarter on a 41-yard run in which it appeared he was stopped for little gain, but then squirted out of the pile and ran to day light.
He later scored in the third quarter on a 68-yard run, in which he kept the ball and ran straight up the middle untouched.
Fellow senior Troy Baker finished the game with 94 yards and two TDs on nine carries, scoring a one-yard TD in the second quarter, and a 63-yard TD in the fourth.
Saturday’s game essentially turned tides late in the second quarter when Lancaster’s Kile Jerrett zigged and zagged his way to the 14-yard line on a 39-yard punt return with 1:18 to play in the half.
A sweep play to Brett Snider put Lancaster at the one-yard line, and Baker’s one-yard score with 54 seconds on the clock gave the Arrows a 14-3 halftime lead.
“That’s one of those things where an athlete makes things happen,” said Hoch of Jerrett’s punt return.
From that point on it was all Lancaster, who concluded the scoring with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Day to Jerrett midway through the fourth quarter. Jerrett led the Lancaster receivers with three receptions on the day for 76 yards and one TD.
Adding four extra-point kicks for the Arrows was junior kicker Hunter Budack.
In all, the Lancaster offense accumulated 441 total yards to Durand’s 168. The Arrows punted just once during the entire contest, while converting on 5-of-9 third-down attempts and 0-for-3 on fourth down.
“They took away our fullback, which we knew we were going to have trouble running up the middle, so we tried to run outside,” said Hoch of his offensive scheme. “I was very pleased with how we ran outside.”
“Our kids blocked well enough up front to get some things happening, but what was most impressive was how we blocked on the edge,” Hoch added. “We had our best game blocking on the edge by our receivers and halfbacks that created some openings.”
It was obvious with Lancaster’s plan to run outside, that Durand was physically exhausted early in the game, which certainly attributed to the Arrow’s dominance in the second half.
“They were big kids and they were physical, and we tried to run outside a lot at the beginning just to try and wear them out,” said Hoch.
This Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. at Middleton High School, the Arrows will take the field against Brillion (10-1) for the right to play in the WIAA Division 5 state championship next Thursday.
The Lions average 41.2 points per game, while giving up an average of 14.5.
On the ground they average 331 yards and 4.5 touchdowns per game, while through the air average 133.8 yards per game and one TD.
Brillion has one running back who enters the game with 1,342 yards and 19 touchdowns in Brandon Pribbernow (#36), while Eric Kittel (#2) had 997 yards and 13 TDs to his credit.
The Lions run a Wing T offense and a 5-2 defense.
Lancaster 34, Durand 3
(WIAA D5 Level III playoff game from Saturday, Nov. 3, at Lancaster)
Durand 3 0 0 0 - 3
Lancaster 0 14 6 14 - 34
D - Schade, 38-yard field goal
L - A.J. Day, 41-yard run (Hunter Budack kick)
L - Troy Baker, 1-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Day, 68-yard run (kick failed)
L - Baker, 63-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Kile Jerrett, 58-yard pass from Day (Budack kick)
First downs - D 12, L 10. Rushing - D 39-27, L 39-322. Passing yards - D 141, L 119. Passes - D 11-22-0, L 4-7-1. Fumbles-lost - D 1-0, L 2-0. Penalties-yards - D 5-30, L 4-25.
Rushing - D: T.J. Auth 10-28; L: A.J. Day 13-139, Troy Baker 9-94, Brett Snider 9-63, Trae Mezera 5-17. Passing - D: Jake Weber 10-21-0, 112; L: A.J. Day 4-6-1, 119. Receiving - D: Jack Komro 2-28; L: Kile Jerrett 3-76, Troy Baker 1-43.