Football Cardinals rout Memorial

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton quarterback Davis Roquet (8) and the Cardinals rolled past Madison Memorial in their season-opener last Friday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Tim Simon was nervous.

But for anyone that knows Simon — Middleton’s 14th year football coach — that’s simply par for the course.

“I’m always nervous on gameday,” Simon said. “People give me (nonsense) in the hallways. But really everything worries me.”

It’s a good thing Simon has a football team plenty capable of calming his nerves.

In Middleton’s season-opener against Madison Memorial last Friday, the Cardinals dominated from start to finish. Middleton built a commanding 29-0 halftime lead and rolled to a 36-7 win.

Senior running backs Dion Huff and James Pabst both had a pair of touchdown runs, senior quarterback Davis Roquet was a model of consistency, and the Cardinals’ defense was largely impenetrable when the game was being decided.

“We played together as one tonight,” Middleton senior defensive back Cole Ragsdale said. “And it was awesome.”

Middleton had been hit hard by injuries over the summer and during the preseason, giving Simon even more reason to be anxious. But the Cardinals showed their depth, flexed their muscles and quickly alleviated any concerns their head coach had.

Middleton, with four new starters on the defensive line and nine new starters overall on defense, seemingly plugged in its new group of standouts. The Cardinals allowed just 47 yards in the first half, 149 for the game and only eight first downs.

Middleton senior defensive end Ryan Lewis was virtually unblockable and finished with three sacks, while senior linebacker Jimmy Frusciante lived in the Spartans’ backfield all night himself.

Offensively, Middleton’s revamped offensive line of (from left) Clay Craker, Logan Thomas, Grant Manser, Gavin Adler and Corey Parkinson did enough damage for Huff and Pabst to strut their stuff and for Roquet to pick apart Memorial’s secondary.

“I think we played physical,” Simon said. “And that’s how we want to play. We want to be known as a physical team. And for five new offensive linemen and four new defensive linemen, I’m very proud of their effort.

“I think what I’m most proud of is we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves when it came to all the injuries. It’s a ‘next man in’ mentality. And I know everybody says that and you can say it, but you’ve got to believe it, too. So I’m really proud of them.”

Middleton took control of the game in the first six minutes, when it intercepted two of the first three passes thrown by Memorial quarterback Michael Toman.

On the Cardinals’ first defensive snap of the year, Ragsdale received an early Christmas gift when Toman threw a ball right to him. A Spartans receiver was trying to come inside on a slant, but when he couldn’t get to the spot, Toman’s pass went right to Ragsdale.

Six plays later, Huff hammered in from 4-yards out to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.

“He was throwing a slant and I just waited on it and he overthrew it,” Ragsdale said. “It just came into my hands. I think it gave us some confidence.”

On the third play of Memorial’s next series, Frusciante applied heavy pressure to Toman on a third-and-2 play. Toman got the ball off, but it went right to junior cornerback Kevin Meicher, who returned it to the Spartans’ 21.

After Roquet scrambled for 14 yards, Pabst barreled up the gut for a 7-yard TD and a 14-0 Cardinals lead.

“I was just covering my zone and he threw it right to me,” Meicher said. “I think that set the tone at the beginning of the game. We knew they were a good team, but that really set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Simon and the Cardinals often talk about “difference making” plays. Just six minutes into the season, they already had two.

“We tell our kids there are often six or seven plays that are difference makers in games,” Simon said. “Tonight, those two interceptions — and interceptions in their territory — were huge.”

Those big plays kept coming, too.

Early in the second quarter, Cardinals junior safety Devon Jackson blocked a punt by Memorial’s Mateo Mora and Middleton took over at the Spartans’ 3. Two plays later, Pabst followed Parkinson to the endzone for a 3-yard TD and a 21-0 Middleton lead.

On Memorial’s next possession, Mora was again forced to punt from his endzone. This time, Mora jumped to field a high snap, but was tackled by Jackson for a safety and a 23-0 MHS lead.

Then on the Cardinals’ final drive of the first half, they put together a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by a 17-yard pop pass for a score from Roquet to senior tight end Cole Parrell. The drive also included a gorgeous 64-yard pass from Roquet to Ragsdale.

“I would say we were efficient on offense,” Simon said. “We weren’t explosive … which is fine. There’s something said for efficiency, too.”

Memorial put together a nine-play, 71-yard touchdown drive to begin the second half. After that, the Spartans managed just 31 yards on their final four possessions.

“I think we’re set for the season on defense,” Meicher said. “We’re really good.

“I think we all trust each other on defense. We know where each other is, we know our responsibilities.”

Offensively, Roquet was a rock steady 10-of-17 for 155 yards a touchdown. And in the first half alone, Roquet was 6-of-10 for 133 yards.

Huff, who’s added 10 pounds of muscle since last year and rarely went down on first — or second — contact, had 13 carries for 76 yards (5.0). And the speedy Pabst averaged 4.8 yards on his eight carries and scored twice.

“The O-line did great,” Huff said. “They made sure we had good open holes and I just ran through them and followed them.

“I think me and James can be really dangerous if we keep working together. Our O-line opened up holes (Friday), and if they keep doing that, we can be great.”

Middleton will find out just how close it is to greatness Friday when it travels to defending Big Eight co-champion Sun Prairie at 7 p.m. Sun Prairie routed Madison East, 56-0, in its season-opener, and with 15 returning starters, is the conference favorites again.

“They have so many starters back,” Simon said of Sun Prairie. “They’ve been picked to be at the top of the conference and I’d say that’s fair. They’re really good. They’ve always got some big boys up front and can move the ball pretty well. They’re always solid.”

 

Aug. 18

Middleton 36, Madison Memorial 7

Madison Memorial …….. 0  0  7 0 — 7

Middleton ………………… 14 15 7 0 — 36

MID — Huff, 4, run (Culp kick)

MID — Pabst, 7, run (Culp kick)

MID — Pabst, 3, run (Culp kick)

MID — Safety

MID — Parrell, 17, pass from Roquet (pass failed)

MM — Cerniglia Jr., 6, pass from Toman (Kerkhoff kick)

MID — Huff, 1, run (Culp kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs — MM 8, MID 13. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — MM 32-41, MID 32-138. Passing yards — MM 108, MID 163. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — MM 8-19-2, MID 11-18-0. Fumbles-lost— MM 2-1, MID 0-0. Penalties-yards — MM 1-15, MID 4-28.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing: MM, Weaver 1-20. MID, Huff 13-76.

Passing: MM, Toman 8-16-2-68. MID, Roquet 10-17-0-155.

Receiving: MM, Cerniglia 4-41. MID, Ragsdale 1-64.

 

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