Sometimes, especially when two teams are relatively even, it comes down to who has more in the tank.
On a warm late-August Saturday afternoon at Lake Country Lutheran, the host Lightning won out, defeating Burlington Catholic Central in a nonconference game, 27-7, but it wasn't easy for the Lightning.
LCL was nursing a 20-7 lead after sophomore running back Cole Kresken got a first down inside the Lightning 20-yard line with 1:50 to play, but Lake Country Lutheran senior Evan Kramer intercepted a pass near the goal line and returned it 30 yards, all but putting the game out of reach.
It was the second straight year LCL had knocked off BCC, following up last year's first-ever success against the Hilltoppers. The win reaffirmed the Lightning place among the top Division 7 squads in the state.
Two plays after the pick, senior Justin Prostinak broke loose, racing around the spent Burlington Catholic Central defense for a 47-yard score to ensure LCL's regular-season winning streak would extend to 12 games.
"We keep pounding at them and they're worn down," said LCL assistant coach Mark Herdt on the sidelines. "We'll score on this play, I know it."
Maybe Herdt should buy a lottery ticket.
"Yeah I heard that," head coach Greg Brazgel said with a laugh. "When you predict something 100 times, eventually you're going to be right. But he was the one that said let's keep pounding them, and sooner or later, something will pop. It took us until the fourth quarter because they're a very good team."
Junior running back Adam Tovar probably had the biggest run from scrimmage, a 9-yard run for six points with 4:34 to play in the third quarter, putting the Lightning (2-0) up by that 20-7 count.
The other scores for Lake Country Lutheran came thanks to junior quarterback Ben Wilkins hooking up with Kramer from 32 yards and 18 yards on back-to-back possessions late in the first quarter, turning an early 7-0 deficit into a 14-7 halftime lead. The passing game picked up a rushing attack that mustered 26 yards in the first half.
Defensively, the Lightning held their ground well, getting workhorse play from junior Ross Gottschalk, who had 10 tackles —four for losses.
"It was a very good effort," said junior TJ Hopkins, another player who was all over the field Saturday. "He's really a beast in there. When he's coming after you, it's time to run for your life."
The two good teams know plenty about each other.
"It was a good high school football game," Burlington Catholic Central head football coach Tom Aldrich said. "The weather was a factor today. Both teams played hard-hitting football. They just made a few more plays than we did today, but no one likes to be on the losing end of it."
On Sept. 6 the Lightning host Brookfield Academy and will utilize their new bleachers for the first time in school history.
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