Hard-hitting Dutchmen seize control of CLC race with shutout win that dashes CG-Belgiumâ€™s title hopes
Wind-swept rain was no friend to the Cedar Grove-Belgium football team last Friday night.
But hard-hitting Oostburg provided an even more annoying obstacle, grinding out a 30-0 victory that effectively dashed the Rocketsâ€™ shot at a third straight Central Lakeshore Conference title.
â€śIt was a tough game,â€ť said Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Chris Zablocki, whose team fell to 2-2 in league play, two games behind first-place Oostburg with three weeks left in the regular season.
â€śWe lost two defensive starters (lineman Matt Mueller and back Brady Myhre) in the first quarter, which hurt, and were never able to get much going.
â€śA lot of credit goes to Oostburgâ€™s coaching staff and players. They came out and got the job done.â€ť
The Flying Dutchmen, who stand alone atop the league race with a 4-0 record, stymied the Cedar Grove-Belgium offense. They allowed only 133 total yards and three first downs on a night
when conditions forced both teams into ball-control mode.
Together, the teams attempted only nine passes and completed one â€” a 17-yarder from Cedar Grove-Belgium quarterback Travis Obbink to tight end Jonathan Herzog.
But the Dutch were able to control field position and the clock by piling up 316 yards rushing. Sam Schouten carried most of the load, running for a game-high 129 yards and two touchdowns on 22 attempts.
Schoutenâ€™s 67-yard scoring run in the third quarter helped break the game open after the Dutchmen held a 10-0 lead at halftime. He ended the suspense with a 26-yard touchdown burst in the fourth quarter.
For good measure, Schouten also used his kicking leg to sting the Rockets. Besides booting a 36-yard field goal in the second period, he made all four of his extra-point attempts.
Quarterback Mike Keller put Oostburg ahead for good with a 57-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter and capped the scoring with a 1-yard keeper.
â€śOostburg controlled the line of scrimmage, and that was the biggest factor in the game,â€ť Zablocki said.
â€śBetween them and the weather, we had trouble getting our offense moving. You couldnâ€™t pass, and when you have trouble running the ball, there isnâ€™t much else you can do.â€ť
The Rockets, who slipped to 3-3 overall, had a tough challenge entering this season with a young roster. Their ranks became further thinned when Mueller, a junior, and Myhre, a sophomore, went down with ankle and hip injuries, respectively.
By the end of the game, the Rockets had seven players on the sideline whoÂ were knocked out by injuries this season, Zablocki said. Among them was junior Hunter Buechler, the Rocketsâ€™ top runner and a standout linebacker.
â€śThis is the first time weâ€™ve ever experienced something like this,â€ť Zablocki said.
â€śInjuries are part of football, but thereâ€™s no question itâ€™s had a great effect on how weâ€™re able to do things.â€ť
Despite the mishaps, Cedar Grove-Belgium still has its sights on a WIAA playoff berth. With a win by forfeit against Stockbridge assured in their regular-season finale, the Rockets need one more victory to secure a post-season berth.
Theyâ€™re take aim at one this Friday when they host Elkhart Lake in a 7 p.m. homecoming game also designated as Senior Night.
Due to the Stockbridge forfeit, the contest will be the Rocketsâ€™ home finale.