The key to Spencer/Columbus’ undefeated season is what happens before the opening kickoff
By Paul Lecker
SPENCER — The Spencer/Columbus Catholic football team takes a lot of pride in its preparation each week leading up to a game.
That preparation, and numerous big plays along the way, has allowed the Rockets to get off to great starts in each of their games this season and leaves them with an unblemished record heading into the WIAA playoffs.
Spencer/Columbus Catholic (9-0), the No. 1 seed in Group C of Division 5, will host No. 8 seed New Glarus/Monticello in a Level 1 matchupFriday night at Ted Fritsch Field at Spencer High School.
The Rockets hope to start out quickly again, like they have in every game this season.
Spencer/Columbus has outscored its opponents an astounding 147-0 in the first quarter of its nine games this season. In the first half, the Rockets hold a 272-29 advantage — or on average they have held a 30-3 lead at halftime.
The Rockets have trailed just twice this season, both at different points during a 36-30 road win at Eau Claire Regis earlier this month. The big leads have allowed the Rockets to rest of a number of their starters, many of whom play offense, defense, and special teams, keeping them fresh and injury free.
“We really do stress getting off to a great start,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jason Gorst said. “We prep all week with the scripts of what we want to open with and what we expect our opponent to open with. From that point forward, it all comes down to in-game adjustments.”
The Rockets have used a lethal running attack to fuel the offense, averaging 300 yards per game on the ground while using numerous ball carriers. Sophomore Hunter Luepke leads the way with 877 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 10.1 yards per carry. Noah Zastrow, Jonny Tomke, Hunter Hildebrandt, and quarterback Calvin Lenz all have more than 300 yards rushing and have combined for another 21 touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, Spencer/Columbus’ defense has been nearly flawless.
Other than giving up 30 points to Regis, Spencer/Columbus has two shutouts and in three other games has given up one touchdown.
“I think our defensive success is a combination of a few things,” Gorst said. “I really like how prepared we are going into each game. All of the players take their classroom assignments very seriously and watch a ton of film. However, the most important aspect is making big plays when they count. The players on this team have really stepped up this year. Their level of pride and competitiveness is quite remarkable.”
The Spencer/Columbus co-op advanced to Level 3 of the playoffs last season for the first time in the 13 years of the shared football program and took that momentum into this season.
The No. 1 seed is a first for the Rockets and has everyone excited to see where it leads.
“The schools and communities are very excited,” Gorst said. “It is great to see the support. Our players know that all the seeding does is determine where the game is played at this point. Being a one-seed doesn’t make us a better football team than anyone else. The only measure of who is better is what the scoreboard says at the end of the night. We know each week will be a new challenge, and you can throw the records out in the playoffs.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.