The final two weeks of the Wisconsin high school football season, as usual, are setting up a number of must-win situations for area teams.
Milton and Oregon found themselves locked in just such a situation Friday night at Oregon: Both teams came into the contest at 2-5 overall. Both were 1-4 in the Badger Large.
Both needed a win Friday night.
It was the Red Hawks stepping up in a big way to get that needed win as Milton got five TDs from senior workhorse running back Zack Bothun to defeat the Panthers, 38-20 on a wet, drizzly night in Oregon.
With a revamped offense featuring an overloaded line and resembling the old single-wing or wildcat, the Red Hawks got 346 yards on 31 carries from Bothun to stay alive to the end of the playoff chase.
Bothun said he and his teammates have been approaching every week like a playoff game the past few weeks.
“We know we have to win every week to keep going,” Bothun said.
Bothun said he loves the new offensive. “It’s great taking that direct snap and running behind the guys,” Bothun said.
Bothun deflected most of the credit for his big night to his teammates, especially the offensive line. “Those guys were amazing tonight,” Bothun said.
Oregon (2-6, 1-5) drew first blood in this one. The Panthers got a 12-yard pass from Cameron Gates to Teague Szudy midway through the opening quarter.
Milton responded with Bothun’s first TD of the night, from 41 yards out off a direct snap, with 2 minutes left in the first.
The Red Hawks took a lead they would never relinquish with 5:08 left until halftime. This time it was Bothun from three yards for a 12-7 Milton lead.
Milton padded its advantage to 20-7 on a 14-yard Jack Campion TD pass to Gage Haske. Bothun’s run for two made it 20-7 Red Hawks headed into the locker room.
The score quieted a large Oregon homecoming crowd. They wouldn’t have anything to cheer about in the second half, either.
It was mostly Milton in the second half, with three more Bothun TDs—of 49, 1 and 1 yards. Oregon got a 1-yard Szudy run and a late 9-yard TD from Austin Saunders.
The Red Hawks stopped the Panthers on their first drive coming out of the locker room and scored on their first play following the Oregon punt, which seemed to take most of the wind out of the Panthers’ sails.
Milton coach Rodney Wedig said his team rose to the occasion when it absolutely had to.
“We challenged the kids a little this week,” Wedig said.
And as for the new offensive scheme?”
“We call that our ‘jumbo offense,’” Wedig said with a smile.
The Red Hawks will finish the 2021 regular season next Friday night at home against Janesville Craig. It’ll be another do-or-die situation for both teams.
Craig, coming off this week’s 56-6 loss at Monterey Stadium to Waunakee, is 3-5 overall (3-3 Badger Large). Milton improved to 3-5 (2-4).
If the Red Hawks win, they will have three conference victories and will need an invitation from the WIAA to get into the playoffs. If Craig wins, the Cougars will have a 4-3 Badger Large record and automatically qualify.
Playoff brackets will be released next Saturday morning after final Week 9 results are in.
MILTON 38, OREGON 20
O—Teague Szudy 12 pass from Cameron Gates (kick good)
M—Zack Bothun 41 run (run failed)
M—Bothun 3 run (run failed)
M—Gage Haske 14 pass from Jack Campion (Bothun run)
M—Bothun 49 run (run failed)
O—Szudy 1 run (run failed)
M—Bothun 1 run (run failed)
M—Bothun 1 run (run failed)
O—Austin Saunders 1 run (run failed)