La Follette Sweeps Through Madison, Captures City Championship
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Over the last several seasons, Madison La Follette has struggled to keep up with and contend against several of the other Madison area schools.
Verona and Sun Prairie have dominated the Big Eight in recent years, and schools like Madison Memorial and Madison West have also had runs at the conference championship of their own.
Madison La Follette however has been left out of the conversation for the last five or six years and left many wondering if the Lancers would ever return back to the top.
Not since 2007 has La Follette won a Madison city championship, but after Friday night’s clash between Madison Memorial and Madison La Follette, the Lancers have finally reached the summit once again following a 28-21 victory over rival Memorial.
“We have a very special group of guys this season,” coach Mike Harris said of his Lancer team. “This was the first season in many years that we did not have a single young man be suspended prior to the season because of drugs or alcohol and we had zero academic issues. They all bought in quickly and banded together.”
This year has been a different tale than many in the past. Since La Follette’s last city championship in 2007, the Lancers have posted a 12-32 record and have had numerous disciplinary issues off the field.
“This was the first offseason that we were truly and completely focused on the season to come and not with off the field issues,” Lancer senior safety Marcus Collins said. “We have been battling in years past with things not related to football and this season we were able to put it all behind us and come together. Tonight was a perfect example of that too, a great team win for us.”
Collins knew coming into Friday night’s matchup that his hands, along with the rest of the Lancers hands, would be full trying slow down Memorials air-raid attack.
The Pitt recruit responded and finished the game with five tackles, three pass deflections and two key turnovers that set up Lancer touchdowns.
Collins recovered a fumble on the first play of the second quarter and set up La Follette in perfect scoring position trailing 7-0.
Quarterback Jordan Carlson found Hunter Mickleson on an 8-yard touchdown throw a few plays later to tie the game at 7-7.
Memorial would answer right back on the Spartans next possession with a RaQuan Cunnigan 1-yard touchdown run set up by a 32-yard catch from Tyler Lindquist who was brought down at the goal line.
Mickleson wasn’t done scoring before the half and struck again on a “trick” play as Carlson hit the “hidden” receiver on the sideline for an easy touchdown pass.
“That play is something we definitely have practiced before but we didn’t really have a plan to use it specifically,” Carlson said. “When we heard it called we just wanted to make sure we lined up right and we didn’t tip off the defense.”
With the city championship still fully up for grabs at the half with the score knotted at 14-14, both teams were looking for an edge in the locker room but the second half was all Madison La Follette.
Memorial did struck first in the third quarter on a Cunnigan 21-yard run to give him his second touchdown of the game, but the Lancers responded and later captured the lead in the fourth quarter.
La Follette drew even once again after an Andre Saunders 1-yard touchdown run in the third and then finally took control of the game in the final period.
Carlson used a play action fake to bait the defense and found CJ Jackson in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass in between defenders.
“Every game we do such a good job of running the ball with Cahleel (Copus) and Andre so I know there will be holes when I try to throw,” Carlson said. “It’s always easy when (the defense) needs to worry about the run and we sneak in a pass.”
The touchdown gave La Follette their first lead of the ball game and the Lancers never relinquished the advantage.
Memorial quarterback Brandon Toman was 0-5 passing on the Spartans last two series and threw the game clinching interception to Collins on a fourth down attempt.
“I was very pleased with the way we ran the ball tonight, perhaps our best game in that category,” Memorial coach Mike Galindo said. “But our passing game has struggled the past two weeks and that is something we really need to focus on. We are going to need that aspect of our game.”
With the win, La Follette advances to 7-1 on the season and Memorial drops to 5-3 after three straight losses.
The Lancers claimed the city championship and the right to host at least one playoff game when the tournament kicks off in two weeks.
“Again, I am just so proud of our guys after this win, man it feels special,” Harris said. “Everyone was a part of this one too. Scout team and practice squad especially. We’ve accomplished some of our goals but have a lot more waiting for us in the next couple of weeks.”
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
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