Warhawks roll into state semifinals
AHS football team whips Kimberly
Arrowhead's undefeated and No. 1-ranked football team had the wow factor last Friday night against visiting Kimberly in their Level 3 WIAA Division 1 high school playoff game.
Thanks to a brilliant performance by the entire defense and an impressive second-half effort by the offense, the Warhawks scored 31 unanswered points against the ninth-ranked Papermakers and rolled to a sharp 31-7 victory. The win vaulted AHS into the state semifinals for the fifth time in the last seven years, with a game to be played Friday or Saturday.
Arrowhead (11-0) put together the total package against a Kimberly (9-2) squad that was the best team the Warhawks had faced this year.
AHS rushed for a season-best 308 yards, including 167 by senior running back/quarterback/receiver Dom Todarello, who scored all three of his team's second-half touchdowns on runs of 25, 13 and 80 yards. Todarello's effort helped Arrowhead turn the game on its head after the Warhawks held only a 10-7 first-half advantage. Todarello now has accounted for 14 touchdowns this season (running, passing, receiving or returning) of 22 yards or longer. He gained all of those yards on just nine carries.
For the night, the Warhawks finished with 419 total yards and 31 points. That's the most yardage and points the Papermakers had given up this season.
And if you think the offense had a big game, think about the speedy and hard-hitting job the Arrowhead defense turned in. Kimberly came into the game averaging 45.6 points per game. Other than an impressive 15-play, 95-yard drive by Kimberly on its very first possession of the night that gave the Papermakers a fast 7-0 lead, Kimberly couldn't score again.
Defense comes up big
Time and time again, the AHS defense kept the visitors from scoring when they were knocking on the door. Senior defensive back Jackson Abresch had three interceptions for the night, all when the Papermakers had marched into Arrowhead territory. When Abresch wasn't delivering a big play, junior defensive tackle Billy Hirschfield, senior tackle Austin Fisher, junior end Logan Rupard and junior linebacker Matt Seitz were getting involved.
"We really didn't make any changes after they scored on that first drive; we just stepped up our energy and stayed focused on what we're supposed to be doing," Seitz said. "Kimberly is a great team and we give them a lot of credit for how hard they played. They're a very fast team, but we stuck to our plan and came out on top. It's awesome to be going to the final four."
Abresch had similar thoughts about the play of the defense.
"The key was we didn't let that first touchdown drive faze us too much," Abresch added. "We have a great group of guys on our defense who really play together. When someone makes a big play, everyone else is happy for them. We're a unit that sticks together, not individuals."
The same was true for the AHS offense. No team had riddled the Kimberly defense the way the Warhawks did. The Papermakers had given up just 5.8 points per game coming into Friday night. In alittle bit of a twist, it was the Arrowhead running game that did all of the damage.
Todarello, who carried the ball just once in the first half for an 18-yard gain, started the second half as the quarterback out of the wildcat formation. And it didn't take the 5-11, 186-pounder long to make a huge impact on the game.
Arrowhead lead at halftime 10-7, thanks to a 9-yard run by Steve Radeztsky just four plays into the second period and a 30-yard field goal by junior kicker Trevor Ostling later in the period. It was just the second field goal of the year for the Warhawks.
It's Todarello time
But once the second half began, the night belonged to Todarello.
After the defense held Kimberly to a three-an-out to start the second half, Todarello ran the offense out of the wildcat. On his third play, Todarello went 25 yards for a score.
On their next two series, the crafty senior scored on runs of 13 yards and 80 yards to break what had been a close game wide open.
"The line did a great job and our outside perimeter guys do a great job blocking also," Todarello said. "And when you don't get touched, it's pretty easy to run, so let's give credit to the guys in the line. The line did an amazing job all night. Huge credit to the big boys up front."
Making up that line for the Warhawks are senior center Eric Precia, junior guards George Panos and Gabe Morris, freshman tackle Ben Bredeson and senior tackle Jake McQuestion.
"I don't know what our stats were, but that had to be one of our better rushing games of the season," Arrowhead coach Greg Malling said. "The offensive line really came out to play this week."
Even Kimberly coach Steve Jones was impressed with the Warhawks.
"Their defense looked fast on film, but they're even faster in person," Jones said. "They run to the ball so well and they force you to make mistakes. And Todarello is a heck of a player. He hurt us in the second half, and we didn't have anybody that could catch him. That team is ranked No. 1 for a very good reason."
Arrowhead 31, Kimberly 7
KIM - Scott Schreiber 18-yard pass from Ben Diedrick (Mitchel Fisher kick)
AHS - Steve Radeztsky 9-yard run (Trevor Ostling kick)
AHS - Ostling 30-yard field goal
AHS - Dom Todarello 25-yard run (Ostling kick)
AHS - Todarello 13-yard run (Ostling kick)
AHS - Todarello 80-yard run (Ostling kick)
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