It takes four wins to play at Camp Randall for a WIAA state title and the DeForest prep football team took the first step last Friday.
The Norskies opened the WIAA Division 3 playoffs with a 49-7 thrashing of visiting McFarland at Stalder Field.
“It was a flat start, but then we got things going like we needed to,” Norski coach Mike Minick said. “We got the job done.”
DeForest, which is competing in the Division 3 playoffs for the first time since 1992, improved to 10-0 with the win.
“We did our jobs and everything went to plan,” DeForest running back Gabe Finley said.
The Norskies are in the playoffs for the 14th straight year. The previous 13 appearances came in Division 2.
DeForest will face a familiar foe, Reedsburg, in Level 2 on Nov. 1. The Norskies, who beat Reedsburg 28-0 to open the Badger North Conference season, will host the fourth-seeded Beavers at 7 p.m.
Reedsburg advanced to Level 2 with a 37-7 win over fifth-seeded Sparta on Friday.
The Norskies got a little bit of a scare at the start of Friday’s game, as McFarland jumped out to a 7-0 lead after recovering a muffed punt.
DeForest answered on its first offensive play with a 42-yard touchdown run by Finley, which stated a run of 49 unanswered points for the Norskies.
“We gave up the touchdown right away, but we came back strong,” Norski defensive back Deven Magli said. “We played pretty well the rest of the game.”
The Norskies also scored on their second drive of the game. Schroeder capped off a five-play drive with a 26-yard touchdown run.
On its next drive, DeForest added a 30-yard scoring run from Alex Endres to increase the lead to 21-7.
The lead grew to 28-7 before the first quarter came to an end. Finley scored from a yard out.
Finley found his way into the end zone for a third time midway through the second quarter. He garnered a 5-yard scoring run.
The Norskies had a chance to add to its lead in the final seconds of the first half, but Magli had a 100-yard interception return called back due to a penalty. He also had a punt return negated by a penalty in the victory.
“It was tiring to run 100 yards and have it called back, but it happens,” Magli said. “We have a lot of great athletes on defense, which makes it tough on offenses.”
The Norskies turned to their air attack in the second half. DeForest put the game away with a pair of touchdown passes from Schroeder to Lane Larson in the third quarter. On the second play of the second half, Schroeder hooked up with a Larson for a 65-yard scoring strike. On the Norskies’ next drive, Schroeder hit Larson for a 22-yard touchdown.
Schroeder finished the game 4-of-5 passing for 117 yards. Larson caught all four passes.
DeForest had a great night running the ball. The offensive line opened up some big holes on the way to 274 yards rushing.
“We are like brothers,” Norski lineman Braydon Harmon said. “We work really hard in practice to know exactly what we are doing. We make sure we play smart and hard.”
Finley exploded for 190 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries, while Schroeder added 63 yards and a touchdown on six attempts.
“The line was moving everything in their way,” Finley said. “It was all the guys up front.”
The Norskies’ defense held McFarland to 84 yards of offense.
“We just had to do our job and we knew we could stop them,” DeForest defensive end Cole Yocum said. “Our offense motivates us every game. We want to play at a high level like them.”
Magli led DeForest’s defense with four tackles, while Devan Morand-Rivers, Trace Grundahl and Jett Riese each had three stops. Morand-Rivers came away with two tackles for loss.
The Norskies got sacks from Morand-Rivers, Alonzo Blevins, Kody Kuchar, Yocum and Trey Warne, while Marlon Cystrunk had an interception.