(Photos by Dan Young)
By Paul Lecker
MADISON — The Spencer/Columbus Catholic football team finally met its match.
After cruising through the regular season and the playoffs undefeated, the Rockets could not keep up with the high-powered Amherst offense and dropped a 42-0 decision in the WIAA Division 5 state championship game Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Amherst (14-0) scored on its first six possessions as senior quarterback Garrett Groshek, the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association State Offensive Player of the Year, seemingly did whatever he wanted to the Rockets’ defense.
Groshek had touchdown runs of 29 and 78 yards in the first quarter — the first points Spencer/Columbus had allowed in the opening quarter all season — and threw a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter to put the Falcons up 28-0.
Groshek added two more passing TDs in the third quarter to push the lead to 42-0. He finished with 161 yards rushing on just 12 carries and was 11 of 14 passing for 172 yards. The four touchdown passes tied a state finals record that Groshek now shares with Robert Evans of Franklin (2006) and Dan Schneider of West Salem (2007).
“I’m extremely proud of them,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jason Gorst said regarding his team. “They are a fine group of young men, tremendous, tremendous kids. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Spencer/Columbus (13-1) had its opportunities as well in the first half, but could not cash in.
The Rockets reached the Amherst 48 on the opening possession of the game before having to punt and again got to midfield after picking up two first downs the next time they had the ball before stalling.
After Amherst went up 21-0 on a 12-yard TD pass from Groshek to Amaziah McCall 2:11 into the second quarter, Spencer/Columbus’ Hunter Luepke returned the kickoff 65 yards to the Falcons’ 4. Luepke ran the ball four-straight times, fumbling into the end zone on the final attempt with Amherst recovering.
The Falcons went 80 yards in 10 plays to score again, this time on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Groshek to Joshua Cisewski.
The Rockets responded with their best drive of the game, going 65 yards in 15 plays. The drive reached the Amherst 11 before two incomplete passes by Calvin Lenz, and an interception on fourth down, the final play of the half, ended it.
“It was just hard to see,” senior tight end/defensive end Ryan Busse said. “We weren’t able to connect and work together tonight. Things just didn’t go our way, and that’s kind of hard to see. Our offense has been good all year, and then that comes.”
Groshek connected with McCall (23 yards) and Cisewski (33 yards) again in the third quarter to finish off the scoring as the Rockets gained just 25 yards and one first down in the second half.
“He’s a tremendous competitor and a great athlete,” Gorst said of Groshek. “He makes plays, doesn’t give up. He’s a great football player.”
Overall, Amherst outgained Spencer/Columbus 410-124 and held the Rockets’ vaunted running game to just 67 yards on 32 carries. The Rockets came into the game averaging 329 yards rushing per game.
“Offensively we were trying to run our base, the same plays we’ve been running all year long, and it was working in the beginning,” Lenz, a senior quarterback/cornerback said. “You have to credit (Amherst). They came out really well on defense, they shed blocks, and they were prepared.”
The state title is Amherst’s second after reaching the championship game for the third time in the past four years. The Falcons also won the Division 5 title in 2012 and lost to Lancaster in last year’s final.
The trip to state was the first in the 14-year history of the Spencer/Columbus Catholic co-op and second ever for Spencer, which lost the 1982 D-5 championship game 22-19 to Osseo-Fairchild.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Falcons 42, Rockets 0
Spencer/Columbus 0 0 0 0 – 0
Amherst 14 14 14 0 – 42
A – Garrett Groshek 29 run (Cameron Gaulke kick), 5:58.
A – Groshek 78 run (Gaulke kick), 0:26.
A – Amaziah McCall 12 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 9:49.
A – Joshua Cisewski 17 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 3:37.
A – McCall 23 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 9:51.
A – Cisewski 33 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 5:29.
First downs: A 18; SC 8
Rushing (att-yards): A 28-238; SC 32-67.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): A 11-14-172-0; SC 8-17-57-2.
Penalties (no.-yards): A 4-30; SC 1-5.
Fumbles (total-lost): A 0-0; SC 1-1.
Punting (no.-avg.): A 1-26.0; SC 4-18.0.
Rushing: A, Garrett Groshek 12-161, Brandon Piotrowski 14-78, Devin Ostrowski 1-0, Team 1-minus 1. SC, Hunter Luepke 16-44, Noah Zastrow 3-12, Jonny Tomke 4-9, Carson Hildebrandt 1-5, Ethan Meece 1-4, Jon Bauer 1-3, Hunter Hildebrandt 1-1, Calvin Lenz 4-0, Bubba Post 1-minus 1.
Passing: A, Groshek 11-14-172-0. SC, Lenz 8-17-57-2.
Receiving: A, Joshua Cisewski 4-61, Amaziah McCall 3-52, Marcus Glodowski 2-26, Dalton Nemzoff 1-28, Hunter Warner 1-5. SC, Tomke 2-12, H. Hildebrandt 2-12, Luepke 2-9, Zastrow 1-15, Austin Post 1-9.
Punting: A, Piotrowski 1-26.0. SC, Luepke 4-18.0.
Fumble recoveries (defense): A, Benjamin Gutschow.
Interceptions (defense): A, Gutschow, McCall.
Records: Amherst 14-0; Spencer/Columbus 13-1.