Dukes Fall to Brookfield Central 50-43

Dukes Take Field

The Blue Dukes Varsity 2016 season opener certainly lived up to its billing as the Fox 6 High School Game of the Week. But that’s what one might expect in a contest between the Dukes (2015 North Shore Conference Champions) and the 4th ranked Brookfield Central Lancers (2015 Metro Conference Champions).

The only problem is that someone had to win, and this time it was Brookfield Central in a wild night of football that ended with the Lancers besting the Blue Dukes 50-43.

While last year’s 35-14 victory over BC featured 5 TDs by Macklin Kortebein was a game for the record books, this year’s contest, with the exception of the outcome, topped that game in terms of sheer excitement, drama, and point production with almost 100 points scored in the close to 4 hour battle.

Back and Forth, Forth and Back

alex-anthony

WR Alex Anthony leaps to make a reception in the first half.
Photo Credit Brad Caspari
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The Lancers started the scoring by establishing their running game on a 60-yard drive on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead. After two receptions by WR Alex Anthony, the Blue Dukes turned the ball over on a forced fumble, giving the ball back to BC on the Bay 45 yard line. The Blue Dukes got the ball right back when LB Andy Oates intercepted a pass over the middle returning the ball some 30 yards to the visitor’s 35 yard line. QB Cade Garcia completed two more passes to Anthony, the second for a touchdown of 9 yards. Zach Lichosik‘s extra point would tie the score at 7-7 to finish the first quarter.

Brookfield’s next drive would highlight how the rest of the night would go for the Blue Dukes. Facing a 4th and three from their own 42 yard line, the Lancers used a counter play to gain the first down. Time after time during the evening they would effectively use the counter when they needed a big play. On the next play, the Lancers QB avoided DE Brady Weas for what would have been a 10 yard loss, then eluded Bay’s defense, scrambling for a 15 yard gain.

This scenario would be repeated several times in the course of this contest as the Dukes tackling was less than desirable. (Coach Jake Wolter remarked that Coach Jim Tietjen would have been yelling the famous Lombardi line “Grab, grab, grab, what’s all the grabbing out there?.”)

Faced with another 3rd and 8, BC went to the counter for a first down, and scored on the next play to take a 14-7 lead. Whitefish Bay started it’s next possession on their 15 yard line. Garcia, under heavy pressure, just missed connecting with RB Bo Bassindale on what looked to be a sure touchdown on a sprint route down the home team’s sideline. Two plays later, Garcia would connect with RB Michael Kirkendoll, who followed a block by WR Maurice Lee, racing to a 78- yard TD.

Lichosik’s XP once again tied the contest at 14-14. Brookfield came right back with a long pass that appeared to be intercepted by S Case Fleck, but was awarded to the BC receiver. Fleck would get his revenge 3 plays later when he picked off a pass at the 10 yard line, returning it to the Blue Dukes 22.

Garcia moved Bay down the field with a couple of runs and a 4th and long completion to Kirkendoll who made a great sideline catch. On the next play, Garcia appeared to be caught for a loss but broke free to connect with Kirkendoll again, this time for a 25-yard TD strike, Kirkendoll’s second of the game. Lichosik’s XP would give the Blue Dukes the lead at 21-14.

Pass after Pass, TD after TD

Cade Garcia

In his first start, QB Cade Garcia completed 17 passes for 344 yards and 5 TDs.
Photo Credit Brad Caspari
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Cade Garcia was on his way to a breakout performance in his first start as the Varsity QB. Garcia would end the night completing 17 passes for 344 yards and 5 TDs, rivaling the previously mentioned performance by Kortebein in 2015.

Garcia also led the team in rushing on a night when the BC defense came prepared to allow the Blue Dukes offense repeat what happened in 2014 when Van Bassindale ran for 161 yards and 2 TDs and in 2015 when Kortebein ran for 209 yards and 4 TDs. This year, the Dukes offense could only manage 39 yards on the ground. Brookfield relied on a heavy backside blitz to stymie Bay’s rushing game, and Bay seemed unable to adjust. Surprisingly, BC’s much talked about linebacker and Wisconsin recruit Reggie Jennings was never a factor for the defense.

The Lancer’s returned the following kickoff over 80 yards before a TD-saving tackle by Russell Enea. About 4 plays later, the game would be tied again at 21-21 after 2-yard TD run and extra point. The Dukes would strike back with their own special team’s magic when with just over a minute remaining in the half, RayQuon Bolden readied himself to return the Lancer’s kickoff. Initially dropping the ball and appearing to be caught deep in Blue Duke territory, Bolden scooped the ball up at the goal line and ran up the sideline picking up a couple of blocks before finally reaching pay dirt almost 100 yards later.

Unfortunately, Lichosik’s extra point attempt was not good, and as fate always seems to have it, would come back to haunt the Dukes. The score at half time was WFB 27 BC 21.

War in the Second Half

The second half started the same way as the first, with the Lancers putting together a run-based 55 yard drive to take the lead 28-27. Whitefish Bay would come right back, with Garcia finding Anthony for a first down on a well-executed comeback route, as well as a few plays later when Garcia, again under pressure, would wait until the last second before hitting Anthony down field, after which, Anthony outmaneuvered the BC secondary to complete the 67-yard TD reception. Anthony would end the night with 10 catches and 181 yards and 2 TDs, a whole season’s production for some receivers. The Dukes were back in the lead 34-28.

Brookfield put together a 12 play 80-yard TD drive to retake a one point lead, 35-34. BC ran the ball an astonishing 75 times for 397 yards. On most nights, a rushing based offense may run the ball 45-50 times. BC’s 75 rushing attempts demonstrate the dominance they held on that side of the ball. Garcia started the Dukes next drive with a 10 yard run up the middle which was extended another 15 yards when the Lancers were called for unsportsmanlike conduct for a hit to the head. Brookfield Central must have had at least 8 penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct during the game.

Garcia then completed a pass to Maurice Lee for a gain of about 8 yards before Lee was hit from behind and separated from the ball. The Lancers recovered and Lee lay motionless on the turf. Lee received medical attention and in a precautionary measure was removed from the field by the North Shore Rescue Squad.

Editor’s Note: Maurice is at home and reportedly recovering well. Lee was one of several key Bay players lost to injury on the night, including Brady Weas, Tommy Brunner, and Michael Kirkendoll.

Central took over the ball on their 32 yard line and started yet another sustained drive. But this time, in spite of the depleted ranks, the Bay defense held their ground, forcing Brookfield to punt. A dropped snap allowed DE Tommy Brunner to sack the punter before he was able to regain control of the ball allowing the Blue Dukes to take over at the BC 28 yard line.

Garcia had Anthony in his sights in the end zone but the BC defender decided pulling Anthony to the ground before he could catch the pass was a better option for the Lancers. So instead of another Garcia to Anthony TD, the Dukes had to settle for a 10-yard penalty moving the ball to the BC 18, where WFB settled for a 28-yard field goal by Lichosik to take a 37-35 lead.

Bo Bassindale

Bo Bassindale strong arms at Brookfield Central Defender.
Photo Credit: Brad Caspari

Brookfield then rumbled 70 yards in 11 plays to regain the lead, converting a 2-point extra point to give them a 6 point lead at 43-37. So, if you are counting along, that’s an incredible 9 different lead changes in the game with still over 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The Blue Dukes started their next possession at their own 35. Garcia once again quickly led his team on a touchdown drive, completing a 23-yard pass to Anthony and a 30-yard strike to a sliding Bo Bassindale on the 8 yard line.

Two plays later Garcia connected with Case Fleck on a quick slant pattern for his 5th TD pass of the night, knotting the score at 43-43 with less than 4 minutes remaining. Lichosik’s successful extra point attempt was negated by a pre-snap, off sides call against Brookfield, forcing the Bay kicker to make a second attempt. This time the ball missed its mark and banged off the upright leaving the score in a deadlock at 43.

The Dukes defense stopped the Lancers giving Bay one final attempt in regulation. This time, Garcia lofted a long pass down the middle of the field towards Anthony, but the BC defender intercepted, forcing the game into overtime.

Nail Biting and Heartbreak in Overtime

Brookfield had the ball first in overtime. The Dukes defense looked to have them stopped forcing a 4th and 28 situation. Central’s sophomore quarterback, Drew Leszczynski, threw a pass to the end zone that safety Case Fleck tipped but which found the hands of the Lancer receiver for a 50-43 lead.

The Blue Dukes got their chance to tie the score. Garcia hit Anthony who made another patented sideline catch before getting hit out of bounds. BC received two more unsportsmanlike penalties on the play which helped move the ball inside the 5 yard line. Garcia’s run attempt was stopped.

Garcia then attempted to hit Fleck on the same quick slant that that worked just 5 minutes earlier. This time the BC linebacker was waiting, jumping the route and intercepting the pass to end Bay’s hopes and the game.

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