Hamilton shows high definition
Sussex Hamilton bills its new scoreboard at Stan Grove Field as the only one of its kind at a high-school venue in Wisconsin, one that comes with a high-quality video board capable of displaying highlights packages and scrolling advertisements.
The Chargers made sure the on-field product was just as fun to look at.
Hamilton’s Drew Patterson rumbled for more than 200 yards, the defensive line flustered Franklin’s aerial assault, and the Chargers took command against a very strong squad en route to a 31-21 win Friday.
The junior Patterson, whose brother Nick was the Offensive Player of the Year in the Greater Metro Conference last year, rushed 32 times for 245 yards, including 44 yards on the final drive that milked the game’s final 4:18. He had left the game earlier in the second half with leg cramps.
“He is solid as a rock,” Hamilton coach John Damato said. “We lost him a little bit with his cramping, but I’m glad he came back. We rode his coat tails at the end there and iced it with a couple first downs.”
Patterson finished with one touchdown and Nick Knoebel had two of them, including one that gave his team a 31-14 lead with 5:13 to play. Franklin, which showed flashes of the high-octane ability that has made it one of the state’s best offenses for years, went 72 yards in 42 seconds to pull back within two scores, but the Chargers were able to whittle away the clock on the new scoreboard.
“Defensively, we got worn down,” Franklin coach Louis Brown said. “They probably had 40 to 50 plays in the first half alone. We had a lot of three-and-outs and got worn down on defense. They’re good enough where eventually they’re going to break off those big runs.”
There were a number of moments that could be classified as turning points.
With the score tied at 7-7 and Hamilton facing 3rd and 20 from the Franklin 35 in the final seconds of the first half, Corey Parris took a handoff and sliced his way for 29 yards and give Kenny Lo a chance to kick a go-ahead field goal as time expired.
“I was screaming fall down or score because I was looking at the clock, and we were running out of time,” Damato said. “I was running down the line screaming time out. That was critical getting the momentum in halftime there. We gave them seven points. If you told me after the game that we would hold their offense to 14 points, I wouldn’t know what to tell you.”
The seven points came in the first quarter, when Franklin’s Colin Buck scooped a fumbled pitch by Patterson and ran 40 yards for the game’s first touchdown. Hamilton converted a 4th and 1 near midfield on the ensuing drive and capped a 14-play, 93-yard drive with a Patterson touchdown at the 4:52 mark in the second quarter.
Hamilton’s next big play came in the final two minutes of the third quarter, when defensive lineman Joe Eggert intercepted Franklin junior quarterback Sean McGuire. Two plays later, Hamilton quarterback Mark Gryszkiewicz found Nick Boyd, whose defensive presence on the line with Eggert helped frustrate the Franklin offense, for a 12-yard touchdown to make it 24-7.
“Just as soon as we got pressure on him, they got flustered and we made him throw it out of play a little bit,” Eggert said. “The key was to get him out of the pocket and flush him out. I read the screen and it came right into my hands.”
The senior Boyd enjoyed a breakout performance for his work on defense, which included co-authoring two sacks.
“It was working hard, really,” Boyd said of his preparation for the season. “I had high expectations. They always tell me I have so much potential if I work at it.”
Perhaps the biggest play, however, came after Franklin answered the Boyd score with a 39-yard connection between McGuire and Joe Falzon to pull within 24-14. Falzon appeared to deliver a perfect surprise onside kick, recovered by Buck, but officials ruled the ball had been touched prior to advancing 10 yards. Hamilton took over at its own 49.
“We’ll watch it on film,” Brown said. “That was a big momentum changer, because we recovered it, and we would have had the ball and maybe it would be a little closer. But they still played well the whole game.”
McGuire scored on a five-yard run for Franklin to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter, capping a four-play drive that demonstrated just how dangerous Franklin can be. The second-year starter passed for 22 and 31 yards, followed by Ben Smith's 14-yard run to set up the score.
“You can tell they have a lot of experience,” Brown said of Hamilton. “We saw a lot of guys (on their team) coming back on defense. We’ve got a couple young guys on the offensive line, and it showed a little bit. Their D-line was real solid, especially against this offense. “
Said Damato, “We have about six guys we rotate (on the defensive line). We want to make sure we keep them nice and fresh. … We did a lot of stunting, a lot of movement. We wanted to get that quarterback out of a rhythm. If he’s just going to sit back there, he’s going to pick you apart. That kid’s very poised, he’s very good. If we felt we could get him out of the pocket and get some hits on him early, that would bode in our favor.”
Neither team has it easy next week, when Franklin travels to face reigning state champion Kenosha Bradford and Hamilton heads to Hart Park to battle Marquette.
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