Game of the Week Preview: DeForest at Waunakee

posted by Jimmie Kaska - 

Deforest (2-1, 1-0) at #2 Waunakee (3-0, 1-0) - 6:45pm Friday on 1070 AM and iHeartRadio

Last Year: Waunakee raced out to a 28-0 lead by the early part of the second quarter and went on to win 48-12, holding DeForest to 158 yards of offense. The lone player returning from either team that scored a touchdown last year in this game is DeForest's Evan Armstrong, who had an 8-yard touchdown run in the Norskies' loss last year. He leads DeForest in rushing this season with 231 yards and also has three touchdowns.

Last Week: In a hyped match-up that rated as the best in the state at WisSports.net, Waunakee obliterated Mount Horeb/Barneveld 46-0 after leading 43-0 at halftime. The Warriors returned the opening kickoff for a score and also blocked a punt and scored on the return in the first five-plus minutes of the game. Will Ross and Jarrett Wulf combined for four rushing touchdowns in the victory... DeForest racked up six rushing touchdowns (three by Logan Hackl) in a 40-0 shutout of Reedsburg, gaining 239 yards on the ground. They also gave up just 61 yards rushing to pitch their second shutout in as many weeks.

Season To Date: Each team has had two shutout victories, with Waunakee blanking both Fort Atkinson and Mount Horeb/Barneveld while DeForest has kept Monroe and Reedsburg off of the scoreboard the past two weeks. Watertown's fourth-quarter touchdown against Waunakee in a 37-7 loss in Week 2 is the only scoring against the Warriors in 2018, while DeForest lost 17-7 to Oregon in the opening week of the season. Waunakee has out-scored opponents 149-7, while DeForest has a ratio of 94-17. Waunakee has extended their state-long winning streak (17, tied with Lodi, St. Mary's Springs, and Bangor) and the state's fourth-longest conference winning streak (22, with their last loss coming to DeForest in 2014 in Badger North play) as of last week after beating Mount Horeb/Barneveld.

Coaches' Corner: Most who follow high school football in the state are well aware of the career of Waunakee coach Pat Rice, who was inducted into the WFCA Hall of Fame in 2014. He currently owns the state's career winning percentage record, something that doesn't appear to be in jeopardy so far this season (277-39). All he's done since coaching in his 300th game is win that one and 16 more for a 17-game winning streak, not even by half the longest in his career (a then-state record 48 straight wins from 2009-2012)... Longtime DeForest coach Mike Minick has seen plenty of Pat Rice over the past 18 seasons, and the annual battles in this rivalry highlight the Badger North schedule on a regular basis. At 133-62, Minick is approaching coaching in his 200th career game as head coach, which he would accomplish in Week 8's very important home game against Mount Horeb/Barneveld. For both schools, they're the latest in a line of long-term, successful head coaches at each program, and coaches who invariably seem to end up in the WFCA Hall of Fame.

Three Keys: 1. You can't win if you can't score any points, and that's been the work of both teams' defenses this season, combining for four shutouts in six games. There's nothing insightful about noting that each team has shown the ability to keep their opponent off the board in two out of three games this year. So from that, you can expect that getting on the board first will be a key in this one. 2. Both teams use several runners, some of it because of how the games end up down the stretch but also by design. That depth will be tested against solid defenses, as both teams use the run game to set up everything else they do. 3. That other stuff would be passing the football, an area that Waunakee has done well in, piling up 510 yards in three games with five touchdowns, four of them to Sawyer Maly. While DeForest has rushed for 609 yards this year, they've only passed for 219. That'll be an area both teams need to excel in to share the work on offense and move the football against top-notch defenses.

Five Players To Watch: It's hard to ignore a receiver who is averaging 20 yards per reception and has hauled in four touchdowns in three games. Waunakee's Sawyer Maly has stepped into a big role offensively for Waunakee and helped power the passing attack of the Warriors in the early going... Evan Armstrong is one of four offensive backfield mates for DeForest that has scored at least three touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards this season, despite missing a game. He had a touchdown against Waunakee last season... Reed Ryan is one of the state's best edge rushers, and got a touchdown in the win over Mount Horeb/Barneveld on a blocked punt. Even against a run-heavy offense, the outside rusher is one of the keys on both sides and his impact could stymie the efforts of the Norskies to work outside the numbers on the ground... DeForest has two all-conference linemen on both sides of the ball, led by offensive guard John Smozynski, who will help pave the way for a ground game averaging 200 yards per game. Along with senior Casey Faust and others, the offensive line will match up against one of the state's better defensive lines this week... Jarrett Wulf has stepped into the quarterback role vacated by the graduated Nate Carter and has put up impressive numbers, with five passing touchdowns and four on the ground. While Will Ross has provided a big boost on the ground with six scores, quarterback is a fulcrum in the reads in this particular Waunakee offense, so Wulf's early-season success has also been a big part of the overall team's success.

Listen to the game this Friday night at 7pm on 1070 AM and thebig1070.com/!

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