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Power matchup winds up one-sided

Oct. 26, 2010

So much for all the pre-game hype about the supposed bad first-round draw for the Arrowhead Warhawks in the 2010 WIAA Division 1 high school football playoffs. It wouldn’t have mattered who the Warhawks played Tuesday night. That opponent would have been in trouble.

Hosting No. 10 ranked Sun Prairie, one of tri-champions this season in the Big Eight Conference, the No. 6 ranked Warhawks tore the visitors apart with a punishing ground game and scored a lopsided, clock-running 35-0 victory over the Cardinals. Sun Prairie finished the year with an 8-2 record.

By winning in the first round of the playoffs for the sixth straight year, the Warhawks earned a second-round date against Classic 8 Conference rival Waukesha West on Saturday at home. It will be the second straight year that the Warhawks and Wolverines have met in the second round of the playoffs. AHS defeated West earlier in the year at home, 10-7.

Playing with winds gusting as high as 40 miles per hour, Arrowhead ran the ball 53 times in 54 plays, passing just once on a Hail Mary attempt on the final play of the first half. By the time the game ended, the Warhawks had piled up 288 yards on the ground, an average of 5.3 yards per carry.

The AHS running back duo of senior Colton Sweitzer and junior Jamahl Wright both piled up more than 100 yards. Taking advantage of some outstanding blocking by the line of Austin Gatchel, Jake Lindenberg, Tyler May, Nick Ryczek and Trevor Schell, Sweitzer scored three touchdowns and Wright added two.

Sweitzer  finished with 147 yards on 23 carries, and Wright piled up 121 yards on 27 carries.

"We had a great game plan all week and we’re a run orientated team, so playing in this wind was perfect for us," said senior tackle Tyler May. "We did the same thing we did last week against CMH, and the weather also helped us. With the wind, it was a chance for us to go out and play Arrowhead football. We blocked well and the backs hit the holes. This is our kind of game."

Coach Tom Taraska of Arrowhead had similar thoughts.

"(Sun Prairie) has got an outstanding football team and had a great season," Taraska said. "The great news tonight is that our line blocked well and the backs ran hard, and the defense continued to play good football. It was very important for us to start fast and that’s just what we did. It’s nice to be moving on."

Led by a huge game by senior linebacker Derek Landisch and a cast of others, Sun Prairie’s offense, averaging almost 400 yards per game, managed just 123 for the night. It was one of the lowest Sun Prairie totals in 10 years.

In the decisive first half, when the Warhawks put the game away by taking a 21-0 lead, the Cardinals managed just 52 total yards. Besides Landisch, Arrowhead also got big efforts on defense from Jordy Pendergast, Shane Hughes, Eric Rabas, Dylan Seitz, Blake Mattson, Jesse Christofferson and Todd Blatnik.

"Our defense had to make a statement tonight, and we did that," Pendergast said. "We knew they had a good team, winning their conference championship, but we know we’re a pretty good team too. We’re just feeling great right now."

After punting on its first two possessions, the Warhawks got rolling late in the first period and never let up. Their first score, a 32-yard run by Sweitzer, capped off a nine-play drive that consumed 5:05 off the clock.

Thanks to a 7-yard punt by Sun Prairie on the game’s next possession, this time the Warhawks needed just four plays to score as Wright hit paydirt from 13 yards out. 

Arrowhead made it 21-0 after a Rabas interception gave the Warhawks the ball at the Sun Prairie 41-yard line. Sweitzer scored six plays later on a 20-yard scamper.

"I think it was very key to get that good lead at halftime," Taraska said. "We did a nice job, but this is just the start. This is the time of the year you want to play your best football, and we did that tonight."

In the second half, Wright scored on a 5-yard run and Sweitzer capped off the scoring by rambling in for a 7-yard score. Drew Meyer kicked all five extra points.

Besides the interception by Rabas, the Warhawks got fumble recoveries from Landisch and Hughes.

Tickets for Saturday

Arrowhead will host Waukesha West at 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are on sale in the school's North Campus activities office from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. Gates will open at 2:30 p.m.

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