The offense usually gets most of the hype when it comes to the Holmen High School football team.
But its defense didn’t take a back seat on Friday as the Vikings opened the WIAA Division 2 playoffs with a resounding 34-0 win over Marshfield.
Fourth-seeded Holmen (8-2) held the Tigers (6-4) to 186 total yards and earned a second-round game at top-seeded Menomonie (10-0) next Friday. The Mustangs beat the Vikings 49-14 during the regular season.
Marshfield rushed for 67 yards on 29 carries for an average of 2.3 yards per attempt.
“We tell the kids all the time just play physical,” Holmen coach Travis Kowalski said. “Our guys were coming off the ball on both sides well, we were able to tackle well and didn’t make any mistakes.”
The defense set the tone early forcing a quick three and out on Marshfield’s opening possession. On the ensuing Holmen drive, quarterback Isaac Hanland ran 75 yards to give the Vikings a quick 6-0 lead.
“We were able to get a three-and-out and then hit a big one,” Kowalski said. “From there, we just kept trucking up and down the field. Our defense kept forcing three-and-outs, and we were able to move the ball. Our guys played a complete game.”
Drew Becker scored the next two touchdowns — one rushing and the other a 38-yard pass from Handland — to put the Vikings up 21-0 heading into halftime.
Becker added another touchdown in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 72 yards on 11 carries. But it was Handland who carried the majority of the load. The senior had 173 yards on 21 carries for a healthy 8.2 yards per attempt.
“We tell him to take what’s there,” Kowalski said. “If the fullback dive is open, give it to him. If the pitch is there on the edge, pitch it, but if there is an opening, go for it. He runs the triple option really well, and we trust him.”
Menomonie 45, Central 14
MENOMONIE, Wis. — The Red Raiders (5-5) started the game with an onside kick that Menomonie recovered, and things went the wrong direction quickly.
Menomonie (10-0) scored 33 first-quarter points.
Central’s Johnny Davis ran for a touchdown to put the Red Raiders on the board in the second quarter after a fumble.
Northwestern 29, G-E-T 17
GALESVILLE — Sixth-seeded Northwestern (7-3) ran the ball efficiently all night against the third-seeded Red Hawks (9-1).
The Tigers scored in each quarter against the Red Hawks, as running back Reagan Ruffi had three touchdowns and 223 yards rushing. Ruffi has 21 touchdowns this season.
G-E-T got on the board first, as it had a 15-play drive that lasted over 8 minutes. The Red Hawks scored on a 4-yard touchdown run and converted the 2-point conversion to go up 8-0.
The Tigers responded with a touchdown by Ruffi, and he scored again in the second and third quarter. The Tigers went into Halftime up 16-11 after a field goal by G-E-T, and would score two more touchdowns in the second half.
G-E-T scored one more touchdown at the end of the third quarter by Connor Jacobs. Jacobs entered the night with eight touchdowns.
Prairie du Chien 36, New Glarus/Monticello 14
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN — For the first time since 2009, the Blackhawks (8-2) won their opening playoff game.
Tyler Smock started the scoring for Prairie du Chien in the first quarter with a 22-yard run after being shut out last week against River Valley. Smock’s big night didn’t end there as he completed a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth to add to his total of 268 rushing yards on 25 carries.
The Knights scored all of their points in the third quarter with two touchdowns. Patrick Craker started the scoring with a 62-yard run followed by a 37-yard touchdown pass to Noah Zimmerman from Cullen Brooks.
Melrose-Mindoro 38, Lake Holcombe/Cornell 0
MELROSE — The Mustangs (9-1) had 315 yards and held the Knights (4-6) to only 39 to win their ninth straight game.
Drew Blaken completed four passes on seven attempts for a total of 102 yards. Blaken connected with Patrick Corcoran in the third quarter for a 43 yard touchdown run. Jeremy Anderson led all rushers with 67 yards to add to the team’s total of 213 compared to the Knights’ 34.
Division 7 Bangor 63, Royall 6
BANGOR — The second-seeded Cardinals (10-0) whipped up 51 points in the first half alone to make its playoff opener one with no stress.
Senior Luke Reader rushed for three touchdowns and gained 121 yards on 10 carries.
The first two touchdowns for Bangor came on passing plays. Quarterback Drew Johnson found Theo Muellenberg for 18 yards to open it, Caleb Miedema for 34 yards.
Johnson completed three passes on four attempts, and he threw for 103 yards. Bangor held Royall (4-6) to 202 total yards; the Cardinals totaled up 461.