WATERTOWN — Lake Mills junior quarterback Adam Moen accounted for eight touchdowns, six passing and two rushing, as the Lake Mills football team won its eighth straight game, beating Luther Prep 54-8 in a Capitol North at LPS on Friday.
On the first two L-Cat drives, Moen had rushing scores of seven and six yards, respectively. On the first score that came four minutes into the game, Moen mishandled a snap but calmly collected it and scampered in untouched. The second score was setup by a highlight-reel one-handed grab in traffic by senior receiver Hunter Buechel that covered 25 yards.
“We knew they would bring pressure so our receivers knew they had to look for the ball quick and Adam knew he had to get rid of the ball quick, especially with pressure off the edge,” Lake Mills football coach Dan Ferkovich said. “Our receivers did a good job of running routes and getting themselves open in man-to-man. I didn’t think they were going to press like they did, but that worked to our advantage because now if you get beat by a step, there’s nobody behind you. That allowed us to make some big plays there.”
The Phoenix (4-5, 2-3 in conference) answered to cut into the lead after junior tailback Jon Holtz took off 43 yards down the left sideline to reach the L-Cat 20-yard line. Senior receiver Paul Frick then hauled in a 24-yard pass on 3rd and 13 from junior quarterback Elijah Shevey, who bought time in the pocket, with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first quarter. Frick then caught the 2-point try from Shevey, cutting the lead to 14-8.
Lake Mills scored on three of its next four drives, excluding a possession right before halftime.
Junior receiver Charlie Bender went up in tight coverage for a 16-yard reception with less than a minute to play in the first, one of a number of jump balls the team hauled in.
“They guarded us pretty well,” Ferkovich said. “We work on that in practice to make sure we are going up and over guys, playing the ball. Our guys are basketball guys so they are used to going up and getting rebounds over people. This is the same thing ‘we are going to it up and let you make a play.’ Our guys are talented enough to go up and get the ball like it’s a rebound and make some plays for us.”
Sophomore tailback Carson Lund scored on a 12-yard screen pass early in the second. The next L-Cat drive ended in a turnover with Moen getting picked off after being pressured and hit on the arm before throwing by Luther Prep junior middle linebacker Ethan Buege. After a first-down run by Holtz and chain-moving reception by Frick, the Phoenix turned it over on downs. Lake Mills (8-1, 5-0) senior receiver Matt Johnson reeled off a 61-yard reception on the next play and caught a 5-yard slant a few plays later, pushing the lead to 34-8 at the break.
Johnson had touchdown receptions of 21 and 14 yards in the third quarter while Lund caught his second touchdown, scoring from nine yards out on the last play of the third quarter.
Lake Mills, the Division 4 fifth-ranked team in this week’s coaches poll, has now held six straight opponents under 14 points.
“We made timely plays when we needed to and got some sacks,” Ferkovich said. “They had some penalties too which hurt their drives and that was hard for them to come back from. I felt our guys were prepared, in tune with the game plan, recognized what was going on and knew their players really well and were ready to execute.”
Luther Prep lost its final two games to miss out on the playoffs. The Phoenix last made the postseason in 2006.
“I’m thankful for the seniors and all the players, especially the seniors for the time and effort this year they put in,” Luther Prep football coach Justin Gregorius said. “It’s a bummer the way the season ended, but give credit to Lake Mills they are a good team.”
Luther Prep had tight, man-to-man coverage blanketing Lake Mills receivers, but the L-Cats went up and high-pointed the ball to make tough grabs. On defense, it was tough sledding for Holtz and the rest of the ball-carriers.
“They just made great plays on the ball,” Gregorius said. “That’s just what they do and what they’ve done all season. They are used to that offense and what they need to get done.
“They aren’t the biggest team defensively, but they are very athletic. They pursue to the ball and corralled Holtz and our running backs all day.”
For Luther Prep’s senior class, this one especially stings, but the leadership they instilled within the program will remain for years to come.
“It’s fantastic, the leadership we’ve been able to have has gone through all the underclassmen,” said senior fullback and defensive tackle Levi Clark, who first played on varsity as a sophomore. “We’ve really come together this year from the start of camp being in the dorms and working all these months together, it’s been huge.
“It’s been awesome to play with these guys. We have a ton of guys here who deserve a huge amount of credit, all of our coaches, athletic trainer and players putting in all that work day in and day out for all the years I’ve been here. It’s been great.”
Phoenix junior linebacker David Baumann was lost to a shoulder injury early in the game. In a season of ups and down, Luther Prep played hard until the last whistle.
“As I told the guys in August when we met, this was going to go fast so appreciate everything,” Gregorius said. “In your senior year when it’s done, that’s it. When it’s your senior year, you won’t get this opportunity back again. For those guys to appreciate the season, their teammates and playing for Luther Prep.”
Lake Mills will host St. Francis in a WIAA Division 4 Level 1 game at the new high school field on Friday at 7 p.m.