CG-B football finds little room to run in first-round loss to Kenosha St. Joseph
Cut off the fuel, and you’ll stop the engine.
The Kenosha St. Joseph football team took the strategy to heart when it bottled up Cedar Grove-Belgium’s top rusher in a WIAA Division 5 playoff opener last Friday.
Limiting halfback Alex Giles to 70 yards on 25 carries, the Lancers secured a 21-0 win over a foe they struggled with last year.
“Kenosha St. Joseph won by beating us up front,” Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Chris Zablocki said.
“They were big, and we knew we would have a challenge. When they put 10 people in the box to stop Alex, there wasn’t any room for him to run.”
Fifth-seeded St. Joseph (7-2), which had been gashed for 322 rushing yards by Giles in a pair of losses to the Rockets last year, wasn’t about to be manhandled this time. In controlling the line, the Lancers allowed only 168 total yards, forced Cedar Grove-Belgium to the air and scooped up five turnovers.
Although the Rockets had several chances to connect with the pass, their timing was off. Quarterback Drew Emperley went 6-for-14 for 54 yards and threw two interceptions.
Trailing, 7-0, fourth-seeded Cedar Grove-Belgium saw its best scoring chance dashed when Emperley just missed on a pass to tight end Brady Myhre that could have tied it up.
“We were a bit off in our passing game all night,” Zablocki said. “They forced us to pass, but we weren’t able to make enough plays.”
Although St. Joseph didn’t generate a high-powered offense, it put up enough points to slowly take charge.
Running back Chris Madden rushed for a game-high 169 yards on 25 carries, and quarterback Justin Williams added 104 yards and two touchdowns on 15 attempts.
Williams gave the Lancers all the scoring they needed with a 9-yard touchdown keeper in the first quarter.
After taking a 7-0 edge into halftime, St. Joseph scored the first two times it had the ball in the third quarter.
Madden made it 14-0 when he scored on a 57-yard run on the Lancers’ first possession.
On the first play after the Rockets lost a fumble, Williams broke through the line for a 59-yard scoring burst that put his team up by three touchdowns.
“The turnovers were very uncharacteristic for our team,” Zablocki said. “That’s what can happen when you’re trying too hard to make a big play.
“Our kids were trying to make the extra effort. It wasn’t because of being undisciplined.”
Zablocki was also quick to note that the caliber of the opposition had something to do with the Rockets’ struggles.
“My hat goes off to St. Joseph. They have a very good team, and they took some things away from us that we’ve done well this season,” he said.
“That’s what good teams will do in big games.”
Having defeated the Lancers twice last year — 35-14 in the season opener and 57-17 in the playoffs — Cedar Grove-Belgium went into the game as a favorite on its home field. However, Zablocki said his coaching staff and players were expecting a dogfight.
“They were bigger than us and had just about everyone back from their team from last year,” he said. “We lost a lot of players and didn’t match up with them as well.
“This time, they just played better than us.”
The loss snapped the Rockets’ six-game winning streak and left them at 6-3. It also brought to an end an outstanding career for Giles, who became just the 29th back in WIAA history to top the 5,000-yard rushing mark.
“Alex has had a great career. Needless to say, he’s the best back we’ve had at Cedar Grove-Belgium,” Zablocki said.
St. Joseph advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where it will face top-seeded Brillion (7-1) this Friday.
Image Information: CEDAR GROVE-BELGIUM quarterback Drew Emperley had the ball knocked loose during his team’s 21-0 loss to Kenosha St. Joseph last Friday. The host Rockets committed five turnovers in the game, which eliminated them from the WIAA Division 5 playoffs. Photo by Sam Arendt