Wauwatosa Spartans clobber Greendale, 46-8, in Ironman league
Playoffs begin Saturday against Shorewood
The Wauwatosa Spartans looked to use their final Ironman Football League regular-season game against the Greendale Panthers as a springboard to the playoffs. A 46-8 victory Saturday night at Hart Park proved to be just that.
The Spartans earned their fifth straight win and kept sole possession of first place in the American Conference. The Panthers (4-5) had already secured the third seed in the National Conference playoffs.
The Spartans improved to 8-2 overall and 7-2 in IFL play. In first-round playoff action, they host the Shorewood Monarchs at 7 p.m. Saturday at Marquette University's Valley Field.
The venue is new to the Spartans, as their regular home field, Wisconsin Lutheran College's Raabe Stadium, is under construction in preparation for the 2011 football season.
Coming into the playoff matchup, the Spartans are averaging more than 28 points per game on offense. The defense is allowing just 9.0 points per game. The Monarchs' offense comes in averaging just over 20 points per game, while its defense has submitted over 23 points per game. In the teams' regular season meeting in week five, the Spartans were victorious, 42-8.
Things got ugly early Saturday for the Panthers, who lost a fumble to safety Bob LaPlante on their first offensive snap. Four plays later running back Bobby Windom ran 37 yards for the game's first score.
The Panthers followed up with a three-and-out on their next offensive series, and after good punt return, the Spartans took over at their own 45-yard line. This time it took nine plays to score, as quarterback Tony Henner found tight end Lee Phillips for a 9-yard touchdown and a 12-0 lead after another missed extra point.
After receiving the kick, the Panthers promptly fumbled again, this time recovered by defensive tackle Brian Witt at the Panthers' 17-yard line. Three plays later and it was Phillips again on the receiving end of a 9-yard Henner strike, making it 19-0 to end the first quarter.
"One of the things we focus on in games like this is scoring quickly, because if you let any team hang around long enough, you never know what can happen," Spartan head coach Brandy Spoerl said.
"Last week we weren't able to do that, so we really made it a priority this week and it worked out pretty well."
At the start of the second quarter, the Panthers managed a few plays on offense before linebacker Blake Rathkamp intercepted an errant pass over the middle and returned it to the Panther 39-yard line. After a couple short runs by running back Cedric McFadden, Henner found wide receiver Silas Arce' open on a slant, which he ran 38 yards for the game's fourth touchdown. On the extra point try, a bad snap was picked up by holder Jim Henner, who weaved through defenders for the two-point conversion, and a 27-0 lead.
The Spartan defense forced another three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and the Panthers attempted a desperation fake punt, which was promptly stopped at their own 35-yard line. A few plays later Spartans kicker Paul Schroeder added a 25-yard field goal for a 30-0 lead.
Again, the Panthers could manage no offense and were forced to punt after three plays.
With time winding down in the first half, the Spartans struck quickly when Henner found wide receiver Raymon Porchia for a 37-yard score to make it a 37-0 halftime lead.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Panthers were able to open the fourth quarter with their only scoring drive of the game, capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass, making it 37-8.
The Spartans struck back immediately, as Henner found wide receiver Darius Harris for a 31-yard score, making it 44-8.
On the kickoff, the Panther returner was unable to recover a long boot by Schroeder, and the Spartans were able to tackle the returner in the end zone for a safety, and the game's final points, making it 46-8.
Henner finished 15-for-25 for 215 yards and five TDs, spreading the ball around to his receivers. Leading the receivers were Arce' with four catches for 67 yards and a score, Porchia with three catches for 62 yards and a TD and Phillips with two touchdown catches for 17 yards.
Windom finished with nine rushes for 64 yards and a TD and McFadden added 12 rushes for 34 yards.
The Spartan defense was stingy and opportunistic, creating three turnovers and producing three sacks. Sacks came from defensive ends Justin Morrow and Royal Ramseur (one each) and linebackers Eric Zilisch and Andre Williams each had half a sack.
"The goal was to enter the playoffs with a convincing win, and we were able to do that," Spoerl said.
"We feel like we're playing pretty good football right now, and are excited about our chances entering the playoffs this weekend."
- Tom 'Sky' Skibosh
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