West Allis Hale used a power rushing attack and timely defensive plays to overwhelm a hard-charging, never-say-die Wauwatosa East team Friday, 44-27.
The Huskies held a commanding 25-7 halftime lead, thanks largely to the backfield triumvirate of junior Taylor Tomczak, sophomore Corey Stingley and freshman Joe Werner. The trio combined for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the first half.
With East leading 7-6 early in the second quarter, Tomczak ripped off 20 yards on three carries in the red zone, ultimately dragging tacklers into the end zone from nine yards out.
Stingley added another touchdown on the ground two possessions later, high stepping through the left side of the line and accelerating down the sideline for the score.
The ground game proved essential on a cold, dry, windy night that saw eight fumbles in the first half.
Hale senior quarterback Dan Sotiros "did a great job of reading (East’s) defense, noting the linebackers and doing the appropriate runs based on what they were doing,” said Hale coach Sean Hegarty. “We were running outside the ‘C’ gap. We saw it open in the first half and took advantage of it.”
Sotiros also scored a rushing touchdown, faking a pitch on the option and bobbing and darting behind a wave of blockers, with just 0:26 remaining in the half. He also threw for the game’s first score.
Wauwatosa East refused to go quietly. The Red Raiders defense, led by senior defensive back Michael Meade and junior Shaquille Redding, forced Hale into two punts and a fumble on the team’s first three second-half possessions.
East sophomore quarterback Christian Tolbert hit wide receiver Vince Cupertino for a pair of first-down slant passes, then found Cupertino again on a second down pass to the flat. The senior broke a pair of tackles and jumped out of two more, willing his way forward before being dragged down at the goal line. Tolbert then ran a pair of quarterback keepers up the gut, breaking through on the second, bringing the score to 25-14.
Tolbert ended up 12 of 19 for 234 yards, with two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown, as well as one interception.
“He (Tolbert) did a number hitting us with those passes,” Hegarty said. “They’ve got nice receivers; real big kids that gave us matchup issues.”
East forced another Hale punt to start the fourth quarter and took over on its own 20-yard line. But the Huskies’ defense made an incredibly timely play, swinging the momentum back for good.
"They're a very good passing team; their record doesn’t necessarily show it, but they’re good," said Hale senior linebacker Sam Olszewski. "They were really moving it on those slants, so we had to make adjustments.”
The adjustments worked. With the defensive line collapsing the pocket and knocking Tolbert backward, junior defensive back Alex Schwab plucked a timely interception out of the air and raced down the sideline for a touchdown. Hale notched the two-point conversion, the score was 33-14, and East would never draw closer.
“Schwab played man cover all game on some tough receivers, and that was a great play,” Hegarty said. “It sprung us forward, and we were able to close out the game from there.”
The Red Raiders did add a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter: a soft 17-yard loft to the end zone which 6-1 junior wide receiver Kyle Vnuk pulled down over two defensive backs, and a breakaway 20-yard off-tackle run by Meade.
But Hale ultimately proved too far ahead, too stout, and simply too much.
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