Eight down. One to go.
With tonight’s homecoming victory over Portage, the Waunakee football team is now just one win away from claiming the Badger North title.
Waunakee ensured early that the visiting Warriors of Portage wouldn’t spoil homecoming. After a Gaje Hughes sack forced Portage into a third and long on the game’s opening possession, Waunakee took over on their own 40-yard line.
It took three plays for Waunakee’s offense to find the end zone. On third and six, Caden Nelson hit Jordan Wuensch on a screen pass, and with a convoy of blockers in front of him, Wuensch rumbled 56 yards down the sideline for six. Following Aidan Driscoll’s PAT, Waunakee’ held a 7-0 lead less than five minutes in.
The Warrior defense pitched in on the ensuing possession. David Kienow snagged an interception and raced down the far sideline to double Waunakee’s lead with 5:30 remaining in the first.
With a boatload of momentum behind them, Waunakee’s defense continued to attack. A pair of sacks by Sam Meyers forced another Portage punt, and Waunakee’s offense took advantage once again.
Nelson found Isaac Schaaf, this time on a deep pass down the sideline; Schaaf made the grab and scampered into the end zone to complete the 63-yard score, and the rout was on.
On the defensive side of the ball, Waunakee recorded five more sacks – for a total of eight – in the first half, with Hughes and Meyers chipping in on many of them. The big night was particularly sweet for Hughes, who has been dealing with injuries throughout the season.
“It’s a great feeling; battling with the injuries was tough, but I’m just happy to be back out here with my brothers,” said Hughes. “I owe it to the hard work the O-line gives us in practice… I give credit to the DBs; if they don’t cover, we can’t get home. It happens because everyone is doing their job… Every time we go out there, we always want to keep the goose-egg on the scoreboard.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Nelson found the end zone twice on the ground in the second quarter, followed by a one-yard touchdown plunge by Cole Mobley to give Waunakee a 40-0 lead with under five minutes to go before halftime.
This meant Waunakee had a running clock in place for the second half. After halftime, Quentin Keene and Michael Gnorski each added to Waunakee’s total by rushing for touchdowns, while Portage managed to avoid a shutout by scoring early in the fourth quarter.
When all was said and done, Waunakee emerged with a 54-7 homecoming victory over Portage.
Nelson racked up 157 yards passing, completing four of his six attempts. Schaaf was Waunakee’s leading receiver with 63 yards, and Mobley led the team in rushing with 33 yards.
With the win, Waunakee elevates their record to 8-0 with just one game remaining in their regular season.
Next Friday, the Warriors face the Norskies of DeForest in a showdown featuring unbeaten teams. Whichever team emerges from DeForest with a victory will claim the Badger North Conference. Kickoff at DMB Stadium in DeForest is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We wanted to be in this position with the start of our season…” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Pat Rice. “The DeForest game is always the big rivalry game… I know our kids are excited to play and I’m sure theirs are. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, it’s going a great high school football game. I’m excited.”