Roar­ing to a ti­tle

Lions cap off per­fect Wood­land sea­son with romp over Fal­cons

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - SPORTS - AN­DREW GRUMAN

NEW BER­LIN - New Ber­lin Eisen­hower has com­pleted its dom­i­na­tion of the Wood­land Con­fer­ence.

The Wood­land West cham­pion Lions se­cured their first con­fer­ence ti­tle since 2009 with a 45-14 rout of East di­vi­sion cham­pion Whitnall in the con­fer­ence ti­tle game Thurs­day night.

Here are five take­aways from the game:

UNDIS­PUTED CHAM­PION: Eisen­hower has left lit­tle doubt that it is the top team in the Wood­land Con­fer­ence.

Af­ter nar­rowly de­feat­ing Ply­mouth, 28-27, in a non­con­fer­ence game to open the sea­son, the Lions have won their eight Wood­land games by an av­er­age of 37.6 points.

Eisen­hower (9-0 over­all, 8-0 Wood­land) be­came the clear con­fer­ence fa­vorite once it eas­ily nav­i­gated a four-game stretch against Pe­wau­kee, Wis­con­sin Lutheran, Green­dale and New Ber­lin West.

“I don’t know what to at­tribute that to,” Eisen­hower coach Matt Kern said. “I knew com­ing into the year we’d have a nice team. I cer­tainly wouldn’t have pre­dicted this in terms of scores through­out the sea­son.

“It has been grat­i­fy­ing see­ing the kids con­tinue to grow and get bet­ter. There’s re­ally been no chal­lenge we have put in front of them they haven’t been able to han­dle.”

JUMP­ING OUT EARLY: The first quar­ter was one-sided and de­ter-

mined the game. Eisen­hower scored with ease on each of its first three drives of the quar­ter to take a 21-0 lead.

The of­fen­sive line of the Lions cleared gap­ing holes, and Jack Him­melspach and Jake Be­lon­gia took ad­van­tage. Him­melspach gained 140 of his 156 yards and scored two touch­downs in the first quar­ter.

DOM­I­NAT­ING DE­FENSE: While Eisen­hower has a pow­er­ful of­fense be­hind play­mak­ers quar­ter­back Bryce Miller, Him­melspach, Be­lon­gia and wide re­ceiver Stephen Halu­san, the de­fense of the Lions has been stout all sea­son long.

The Lions, ranked No. 3 in Di­vi­sion 3, have al­lowed just 49 points (6.1 per game) in Wood­land play with most of those points com­ing in sec­ond halves with wins al­ready well in hand.

Whitnall (8-1, 7-1) mus­tered just 74 yards of to­tal of­fense in the first half and did not find the end zone un­til Ja­cob Flores hit Dan Alex­opou­los for a 30yard touch­down to cut Eisen­hower’s lead to 38-7 with 2:45 re­main­ing in the third quar­ter.

VER­SA­TILE WEAPON: Be­lon­gia is a jack of all trades for Eisen­hower, con­tribut­ing on both sides of the ball.

On of­fense, the se­nior has been a touch­down ma­chine this sea­son with 18 scores in nine games.

Be­lon­gia, who fin­ished with 75 yards rush­ing and 34 yards re­ceiv­ing, scored on a 4-yard run and caught a 20-yard touch­down pass from Miller.

PLAY­OFF PIC­TURE: Hav­ing gone un­de­feated, Eisen­hower has its sights set on win­ning its first play­off game in six sea­sons.

The Lions are 0-2 in the post­sea­son since a 22-7 win over Cu­dahy in 2011. Eisen­hower missed the play­offs from 2012-’14 and has lost Level 1 games to Wis­con­sin Lutheran the past two sea­sons.

Ranked No. 5 in Di­vi­sion 3, Whitnall is back in the play­offs af­ter go­ing 3-6 in 2016.

C.T. KRUGER / NOW NEWS GROUP

Eisen­hower’s Joe Lang eludes Whitnall’s Ja­cob Klatkewicz af­ter a pass re­cep­tion Thurs­day night.

New Ber­lin Eisen­hower’s Jake Schara wraps up Whitnall’s Dan Alex­opou­los for a loss.

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