One more for the road to Madison
AHS whips Hudson, 43-20, moves to title game
How good is the Arrowhead football team? With each passing week and each impressive victory, the definitive answer is becoming more clear. The 2012 Warhawks are good. Very good.
Arrowhead made that statement loud and clear last Saturday afternoon at Stiehm Stadium in Schofield as the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Warhawks rolled past previously undefeated Hudson in a WIAA Division 1 semifinal playoff game, 43-20. The win improved Arrowhead to 12-0 on the season and vaulted it into Friday's state championship game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison at 4 p.m. against Sun Prairie, also 12-0.
AHS will be playing in the Division 1 state championship for an unprecedented 10th time since 1993.
While the final score might indicate another easy game for the Warhawks, that wasn't the case at all. That was especially true in a back-and-forth first that saw the two teams combine for 663 total yards and 49 points. Arrowhead led at halftime, 29-20.
After an early Arrowhead touchdown, Hudson bounced back to tie the game at 7-7 and then led 14-9 with 7:21 remaining in the opening half after Alex Burgess returned an AHS fumble 52 yards for a touchdown.
AHS regained the lead just three plays and 18 seconds later when senior quarterback Brady Kelliher hit junior end Jake Miller with a 62-yard scoring pass.
Hudson later cut the Arrowhead lead to two points (22-20) with 2:08 to go in the half, but once again the big-play AHS offense struck again, this time scoring in just three plays and 43 seconds when Kelliher and junior end Ricky Finco hooked up on a 35-yard touchdown strike that gave the Warhawks their 29-20 halftime lead.
"Our goal all year has to maximize the number of weeks we can practice together, and this one locks that up," second-year Arrowhead coach Greg Malling said. "There was no question that Hudson is a very good football team. They were men. They gave us a test, and our guys stood up to that. Now we get to play for a 13th week."
Second half uprising
The final two periods were dominated by the Warhawks, especially the defense. Arrowhead held the Raiders scoreless in the second half, marking the first time that's happened to Hudson (11-1) this season. On six second-half possessions, Hudson punted twice, fumbled the ball away and threw two interceptions. The game ended when the Raiders turned the ball over at the AHS 25-yard line.
Senior Jackson Abresch anchored that defense, coming up with two second-half interceptions, giving him five in the last two games. Brian Sesolak also had a fumble recovery for the winners and Billy Hirschfeld, Austin Fisher, Logan Rupard, Alex Romenesko, Sam Seonbuchner, Matt Mohr, Alex Sandstrom and Matt Seitz all chipped in with big plays.
Mohr, making his first varsity start of the season at linebacker, said his teammates helped calm him at the start of the game.
"My teammates helped me a lot tonight to settle down," Mohr said with a huge smile on his face. "They kept talking to me and encouraging me. I felt very comfortable after the first couple of series. My teammates on defense are great guys. All of them take a lot of pride in stopping our opponents. I had a lot of fun tonight. It was fun to be a big part of it."
Hudson came into the game averaging 38. 2 points per game and had scored 52 touchdowns.
Its option offense managed just two touchdowns against the Warhawks.
"Once they stopped our inside running game, we were in trouble," said Hudson coach Adam Kowles. "We couldn't get to the perimeter because their speed was too much for us. They just ran us down. Arrowhead is the fastest team we've seen this year. They're ranked No. 1 for a reason and they showed that to us tonight."
On offense, the Warhawks piled up 439 yards in the first half alone and finished the night with 598, their highest total of the year.
Kelliher was 24 of 35 passing in the game, good for three touchdowns. Finco caught a season-best nine passes for 254 yards, and Miller had two watches for 79 yards.
Running back Steve Radeztsky chipped in with 55 yards rushing on just six carries, and Dom Todarello had four receptions for 36 yards and threw a 60-yard halfback option pass to Finco for the first score of the game.
Brandon Kim had two catches for 52 yards.
"Our line played very good football tonight and we know what our backs and receivers can do," said senior offensive tackle Jake McQuestion. "It feels great to be going to the championship game."
To show how quick the AHS offense can score, in the first half they had four touchdown drives of 63 yards, 79 yards, 88 yards and 76 yards.
Those four scores came on a total of nine plays and a total elapsed time of 1:59.
"I've never seen a team that can score like that," Kowles said. "They've got some incredible players and some incredible speed. I told our kids not to hang their heads. We had a great season. We lost tonight to an exceptional high school football team."
Sun Prairie won the Big Eight Conference in the Madison area and defeated Lake Geneva Badger in the other state semifinal, hosted by Arrowhead.
Arrowhead 43, Hudson 20
AHS - Ricky Finco 60-yard pass from Dom Todarello (Trevor Ostling kick)
HUD - Dan Loughney 16-yard run (Sam Somerville kick)
AHS - Safety, Sam Seonbuchner tackled Michael Hommes in the end zone
HUD - Alex Burgess 52-yard fumble recovery (Somerville kick)
- Jake Miller 62-yard pass from Brady Kelliher (Ostling kick)
AHS - Finco 88-yard pass from Kelliher (run failed)
HUD - Hommes 1-yard run (run failed)
AHS - Finco 35-yard pass from Kelliher (Ostling kick)
AHS - Todarello 24-yard run (Ostling kick)
AHS - Ty Jager 3-yard run (Ostling kick)
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