PLATTEVILLE - With 10 starters returning from an offense that went 7-4 and averaged over 350 yards per game a year ago, expectations are running high for the Platteville High School football team in 2011. So far, so good.
The latest Hillmen gridiron squad looked predictably explosive, piling up a number of big plays in Friday’s lopsided 54-6 non-conference route of a depleted Darlington program.
After losing 16 seniors, 10 of which earned first-team all-conference honors a year ago, and having four players sit out of Friday’s game for a variety of disciplinary reasons, the Redbirds looked nothing like the team that came within a game of the WIAA Division 5 state championship game a year ago.
Aside from Darlington’s first drive, which included a 76-yard Zach McArthur to Mitchell Whalen pass on the first play from scrimmage, Friday’s contest was all Platteville.
After the Redbirds took a 6-0 lead on a 5-yard McArthur to Brandon Hardyman TD pass with 10:18 to play in the opening quarter, Hillmen senior David Bast returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to set up Platteville’s first score.
The return was one of six Hillmen plays that covered more than 39 yards.
On Platteville’s first offensive play from scrimmage senior quarterback Logan Emendorfer found junior fullback Nate Fielder wide open in the flat for a 9-yard touchdown pass. Firas Jadaan’s point after made it 7-6.
Platteville began its next drive at the Darlington 13 after the Redbird punter’s knee touched the ground while fielding a low snap. Three plays later Garrison Jones crashed in from two yards out.
Emendorfer then tossed second quarter touchdowns of 17 yards to senior Dylan Tranel and another to Fiedler from 11 yards out, and Jones added a second short running score to make it 33-6 at the half.
Bast returned the opening kick of the second half 86 yards for a 40-6 lead.
Backup quarterback Josh Bernhardt threw a 39-yard TD pass to B.J. Cooley and senior defensive back Jesse Heer picked off a McArthur pass and returned it 63 yards to account for the final score.
Emenedorfer, who never played offense in the second half, completed 7-of-9 passes for 121 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for 64 yards on four carries.
“We played pretty well overall and that’s pretty nice to see in the first game,” said head coach Scott Statz. “But I still think its very early and its hard to tell just how good we are especially with the graduation losses Darlington had and the number of kids they held out Friday night.”
Darlington was without four two-way starters in Friday’s season opener.
“Defensively we played pretty well other than the first play and our special teams play was also very good, especially for the first game of the season.
“But Offensively we still need to execute more consistently. Defensively we still have some things to work on with assignments. At this point in the season it’s too early to put too much credence in a big win in week one.
Platteville will host Division 2 Holmen (0-1) this Friday night. The Vikings turned the ball over five times last Friday and lost their season opener to Chippewa Falls, 41-13.
“They are a larger school, a big, physical football team with good team speed,” said Coach Statz. “They also have a good quarterback. We will have to play well.”
Platteville 54, Darlington 6
(from Friday, Aug. 19 @ UW-Platteville)
Darlington 6 0 0 0 - 6
Platteville 14 19 21 0 - 54
D - Hardyman 5 pass from McArthur (kick failed)
P - Nate Fiedler 9 pass from Logan Emendorfer (Firas Jadaan kick)
P - Garrison Jones 2 run (Jadaan kick)
P - Dylan Tranel 17 pass from Emendorfer (kick failed)
P - Fiedler 11 pass from Emendorfer (kick failed)
P - Jones 4 run (Jadaan kick)
P - David Bast 86 kick return (Jadaan kick)
P - B.J. Cooley 39 pass from Josh Berhardt (Matt Bailie kick)
P - Jesse Heer 65 interception return (Bailie kick)
Team statistics: First downs - D 7, P 8. Rushing - D 33-56, P 24-128. Passing yards - D 94, P 160. Passing - D 4-15-2, P 8-10-0. Fumbles-lost - D 2-1, P 1-0. Penalties - D 3-15, P 9-55.
Individual leaders: Rushing - D: Wedig 16-50; P: Logan Emendorfer 4-64, Garrison Jones 9-40. Passing - D: McArthur 4-15-2, 94; P: Logan Emendorfer 7-9-0, 121. Receiving - D: Whalen 1-76; P: Heer 1-43.