With dominant 2nd half, CG-Belgium knocks out St. Joseph, moves closer in quest for Division 5 title
Forget about slow starts.
When it comes to strong finishes — where it really counts — no one has had anything on the Cedar Grove-Belgium football team this season.A BROKEN-UP PASS sent Cedar Grove-Belgium’s Nick Peterson over the top of a Kenosha St. Joseph player during a WIAA Division 2 playoff game last Friday. Photo by Sam Arendt
Brushing aside a spotty first half in which Kenosha St. Joseph stayed within striking distance, the host Rockets powered their way to a 57-17 win in the second round of the WIAA Division 5 playoffs last Friday.
Standout performances abounded for undefeated Cedar Grove-Belgium, which dominated the second half by a 35-0 tune and advanced to a state quarterfinal game this weekend against Cambridge (see related story).
The Rockets, who piled up 412 yards in total offense and forced five St. Joseph turnovers, got another big game from tailback Alex Giles. The junior rushed for a game-high 179 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
Fullback Hunter Buechler added 72 yards rushing on 12 carries and had a two-point conversion run.
Quarterback T.J. Obbink was just 3-for-7 passing but each completion went for a touchdown.
Perhaps the brightest star was Jon Herzog, a senior who excelled as a tight end and linebacker. Besides catching all three of Obbink’s touchdown pitches — from 18, 35 and 42 yards out — Herzog capped the scoring with a 24-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.
“Jon had a fantastic game,” Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Chris Zablocki said.
“He touched the ball four times and scored four touchdowns. You can’t do much better than that.
“He’s one of those players who knows their assignments, does their job and responds when their number is called.”
Cedar Grove-Belgium, which improved to 11-0, was facing St. Joseph (8-3) for the second time this year. The Rockets had some trouble in a season-opening game against the Lancers before pulling away in the second half for a 35-14 victory.
The rematch had a similar tone. St. Joseph scored first on a 78-yard touchdown run by Chris Madden and pulled within 22-17 when Ryan Casey threw a 66-yard scoring pass to James Battley late in the half.
“This game reminded me of the first time we played them,” Zablocki said.
“Kenosha St. Joe’s came out and caught us off guard with a good offensive call, and the game was back and forth for the first half. But after that, we made some adjustments at halftime.
“The great thing about our kids was that they responded when they knew the game was on the line. We stuck to our game plan and didn’t panic.”
The Rockets’ renaissance included a 21-0 run in the third quarter. The surge, which put them ahead, 43-17, started when linebacker Darren Koopman picked off a pass by Casey and returned the ball to the Lancers’ 35.
On the next play, Obbink faked a handoff with St. Joseph’s defenders crowding the line and lofted a touchdown pass over the middle to a wide-open Herzog.
Before the period ended, Nick Peterson scored on a 41-yard run and Giles added a 24-yard touchdown burst.
The fourth quarter was all Herzog, starting with his third scoring catch.
Zablocki said the use of a two-platoon system helped keep the Rockets fresh for their second-half punch.
“We’re very fortunate with our numbers that our lines don’t have to go both ways,” he said.
“Our game plan has allowed us to wear teams down in the second half.”
Cedar Grove-Belgium’s defense buckled down after surrendering most of the Lancers’ yardage in the opening half.
Madden’s early scoring burst was the first rushing touchdown the Rockets allowed this season. However, after gaining 90 yards on his first two carries, Madden had just 38 yards on his last 15 attempts.
Casey’s passing provided 166 of the Lancers’ 305 yards of total offense, but he completed only nine of 33 attempts against the Rockets’ relentless pressure and threw four interceptions.