Middleton rolls past Memorial

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MTT News's picture
Gregg Hammill/For the Times-Tribune
Dion Huff and Middleton's football team cruised past Madison Memorial last Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

On Middleton’s first offensive play from scrimmage in 2016, running back Dion Huff darted through a huge hole for a 25-yard gain. On the Cardinals’ next play, fellow running back James Pabst ran for another 13.

It was that kind of night for the Cardinals’ junior running backs as each took turns breaking big runs to lead Middleton’s football team to a resounding 31-3 season-opening victory over Madison Memorial in a Big Eight Conference game at Mansfield Stadium Friday night.

Of course it didn’t hurt to run behind an offensive line anchored by 6-foot-3, 320-pound right guard Kayden Lyles.

“Thanks to the O-line,” Huff said. “They just did their job and we got it done.”

Joining Lyles, a University of Wisconsin recruit, on the Cardinals sizable offensive line were left tackle Jarrett Horst (6-4, 270), left guard Daydrian Spears (5-10, 232), center Justin Sarbacker (5-9, 228) and right tackle Seth Craker (6-4, 243).

Behind that line, Middleton rolled up 237 yards rushing on 37 attempts — a 6.4 yards-per-carry average. Huff finished with 108 yards on 16 attempts and Pabst had 105 yards on 15 rushes.

“We knew we were going to use our ground game to move the ball,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said. “Obviously we think that’s a strength of ours, but we also wanted to take some time off the clock.”

While Middleton’s running game was rolling, Memorial struggled to get anything going on the ground. The Spartans managed just 38 yards on 21 attempts and were forced to become one-dimensional after falling behind.

“Our defensive line was real scrappy tonight,” Simon said. “We were able to contain the run game and force them to pass the ball and they’re very dangerous with that, but we made just enough plays.”

While both teams are among the favorites to contend for the Big Eight title, Memorial was operating without its top player, receiver/linebacker Jake Ferguson, a University of Wisconsin recruit who missed the game due to an unspecified athletic code/school violation. The Spartans were also without cornerback Hunter Peters (collarbone).

The Cardinals caught a break on Memorial’s opening drive of the game when quarterback Isaac Blum delivered a perfect pass deep downfield to receiver Cortez Thompson. Thompson appeared to have a step on defensive back Tre Turner and a clear path to the end zone, but dropped the ball at the Middleton 40-yard line.

“There were a couple of pass plays that got over the top on us and you have to be good, but you have to be fortunate and lucky at times too and I think we were fortunate on a few of those plays,” Simon said.

Middleton’s defense forced a punt and the Cardinals immediately went to work on the ground. Big runs by Huff and Pabst set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Huff at the 4-minute, 25-second mark of the first quarter. The Cardinals covered 65 yards in seven plays.

The Spartans cut the deficit to 7-3 on a 27-yard field goal by Karl Hummerl, but the Cardinals answered immediately. A 1-yard quarterback sneak by C.J. Fermanich capped a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. The march featured a 21-yard pass play from Fermanich to Myron Ashford Jr. on third-and-six from the Spartans’ 26. The drive also included runs of 19 and 11 yards by Pabst and a 13-yard run by Fermanich.

Middleton scored again on its next offensive possession. After taking over at the Memorial 37-yard line, the Cardinals faced a fourth-and-two at the 29. Huff powered ahead for four yards and then Fermanich connected with fullback Noah Hellbach on a 15-yard pass play to the Spartans’ 10. Pabst then raced around the corner for a 10-yard touchdown and a 21-3 lead with 3:42 remaining in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, the Cardinals drove from midfield to the Spartans’ 8-yard line before the drive stalled. Middleton settled for Joe Polecek’s 25-yard field goal and a 24-3 advantage. Pabst carried eight times for 47 yards on the drive, which included a five-yard penalty on the Cardinals.

It was Huff’s turn on the Cardinals’ next scoring drive, which was set up by a Jimmy Fruciante interception at the Memorial 32. Huff carried three times for 25 yards, then scored on an impressive 7-yard touchdown run.

After surging through a hole in the middle of the Memorial defense, Huff was met at the 1-yard line by safety Wil Jessup. But Huff plowed through Jessup and into the end zone. Polecek’s extra-point kick made it 31-3 with 9:02 remaining in the game.

“I just thought take the ball, keep moving, don’t stop and, thanks to the O-line, they just kept pushing, kept pushing and we got in,” Huff said. “The O-line was just amazing.”

Shortly thereafter, the game was delayed and eventually called due to a severe weather warning.

Simon was pleased to come away with a conference victory against a tough opponent to open the season.

“Us Big Eight coaches talk about how tough the Big Eight is,” Simon said. “We really feel that is the case. We get slack sometimes for not making it deep into the playoffs, but we’re beating up on each other for every game.

“Unlike most teams in the state, we don’t get two nonconference games to work out the kinks. We’re coming out Week 1, smash-mouth football against a very, very good Madison Memorial team and hopefully we just keep this rolling.”


Aug. 19

Middleton 31, Madison Memorial 3

Middleton ……………….. 7  14  3  7 — 31

Memorial ……………..….. 0  3   0   0 — 3

M – Dion Huff 1 run (Joe Polecek kick)

MM – FG Karl Hummerl 27

M – C.J. Fermanich 1 run (Polecek kick)

M – James Pabst 10 run (Polecek kick)

M – FG Polecek 25

M – Huff 7 run (Polecek kick)



First downs – M 17, MM 10. Rushing (Att-Yds) – M 37-237, MM 21-38. Passing yards – M 77, MM 112. Passing (Att.-Comp.-Int.) – M 14-5-1, MM 23-10-1. Total plays-yards – M – 52-324, MM – 44-150. Fumbles-lost – M 1-0, MM 1-1. Penalties-yards – MM 7-37, M 4-30.



Rushing: M – Huff 16-108, Pabst 15-105. MM – Hackbart 11-36. Passing: M – Fermanich 12-5-1, Davis Roquet 2-0-0. MM – Isaac Blum 23-10-1. Receiving: M – Myron Ashford Jr. 5-50. MM – Cortez Thompson 4-25.


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