By Paul Lecker
RIPON – A dream season for the Spencer/Columbus Catholic football team will continue for one more week.
The Rockets scored on their first seven possessions and completely dominated Shoreland Lutheran, winning 50-7 in a WIAA Division 5 Level 4 state semifinal on Friday night at Ingalls Field.
Spencer/Columbus (13-0) will take on Amherst (13-0) in the Division 5 state championship game at 4 p.m. Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. Amherst came back from a 14-0 deficit to beat Arcadia 42-21 on Friday night in Eau Claire.
This will be the first trip to the state finals in the 14-year history of the S/C program, and the first for the Spencer High School team since 1982, when it was the runner-up in Division 5.
“It’s something you’ve wanted since third grade, ever since you started playing football, and to have it your senior year, there’s no better feeling,” Spencer/Columbus quarterback/defensive back Calvin Lenz said.
From the opening possession of the game Spencer/Columbus showed it was the more physical team, holding Shoreland Lutheran (10-3) to just one yard on its first three plays.
The Rockets followed that stand with a 77-yard scoring drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown run by Hunter Luepke. Luepke added the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
The Pacers had their best drive of the game, reaching the S/C 23, but they missed a field goal. Two plays later, Noah Zastrow ran 78 yards for a touchdown and the rout of was on.
“We knew they were going to be tough, but this entire week our coaches gave us a good game plan to go ahead and attack them and find their weak points,” said Zastrow, who had 174 rushing on eight carries. “Our linemen went ahead and made huge holes and made it easy for us to make big plays.
“Every touchdown starts with them (the offensive line). They always give us five or six yards, or even more, of open space and we make the rest. On a few of those runs, they are down there running with us blocking the entire way.”
Zastrow intercepted Shoreland quarterback Nikolas Lange and the Rockets scored on the first play of the second quarter when Lenz hit Austin Post on a slant pattern for a 5-yard touchdown.
Elijah Welsh capped a 12-play, 64-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 30-0. The Rockets then recovered a botched kickoff and Lenz hit Jonny Tomke for a 50-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
After another three-and-out by the Pacers, Lenz ran 17 yards for a touchdown to put the Rockets up 44-0 at halftime.
S/C held Shoreland Lutheran to just 69 yards and four first downs in the first half.
Jon Bauer ran 5 yards for a touchdown on the Rockets’ first possession of the second half to make it 50-0 and cap the scoring for S/C.
“It was great execution from our guys up front,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jason Gorst said. “They were quick off the ball, made great blocks and I thought our running backs had great vision tonight, making great cuts to make those big plays.”
Now, it’s off to Madison. While the Rockets expected to have another good season, one year after reaching Level 3 in the playoffs, to make it all the way to the state finals is an entirely different thing. Lenz said he didn’t expect it when the season started, but as it wore on, he felt it was a possibility.
“All year long our goal was get back to Level 3 and whatever happens after that happens,” Lenz said. “We were taking it one game at a time, but once we started playing really well and doing a lot of work to a lot of teams, we realized state was a realistic goal. It’s unreal.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Rockets 50, Pacers 7
Shoreland Lutheran 0 0 7 0 – 7
Spencer/Columbus 16 28 6 0 – 50
SC – Hunter Luepke 14 run (Luepke run), 7:48.
SC – Noah Zastrow 78 run (Luepke run), 2:55.
SC – Austin Post 5 pass from Calvin Lenz (run failed), 11:53.
SC – Elijah Welsh 1 run (Jonny Tomke run), 5:05.
SC – Tomke 50 pass from Lenz (Luepke kick), 4:57.
SC – Lenz 17 run (Luepke kick), 2:17.
SC – Jon Bauer 5 run (kick missed), 6:09.
SL – Jakob Thut 49 run (Ethan Woller kick), 2:57.
First downs: SL 8; SC 16.
Rushing (att-yards): SL 27-112; SC 45-368.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): SL 6-13-73-1; SC 2-4-55-0.
Punting (no.-avg.): SL 2-44.0; SC 2-33.0.
Penalties (no.-yards): SL 6-50; SC 2-10.
Fumbles (total-lost): SL 3-3; SC 2-0.
Rushing: SL, Jakob Thut 6-57, Keenan Robinson 13-39, Joshua Wordell 3-9, Markus Held 1-5, Aaron Poling 1-3, Trey Johnson 1-2, Nikolas Lange 2-minus 3. SC, Noah Zastrow 8-174, Hunter Luepke 6-49, Jon Bauer 11-44, Carson Hildebrandt 3-26, Calvin Lenz 5-23, Hunter Hildebrandt 5-17, Jonny Tomke 2-12, Bubba Post 2-11, Elijah Welsh 1-1, Jarred Mandel 1-minus 1, Ethan Meece 1-minus 2.
Passing: SL, Lange 6-11-73-1, Robinson 0-1-0-0, Johnson 0-1-0-0. SC, Lenz 2-4-55-0.
Receiving: SL, Johnson 2-32, Wordell 2-24, Ethan Woller 1-16, Thut 1-1. SC, Tomke 1-50, A. Post 1-5.
Interceptions (defense): SC, Zastrow.
Punting: SL, Johnson 2-44.0. SC, Caden Schillinger 2-33.0.
Records: Shoreland Lutheran 10-3; Spencer/Columbus Catholic 13-0.