BARABOO, Wis. — Every time Monona Grove High School quarterback Tyler Blang dropped back, Logan’s defense had to be on high alert.
The Rangers had faced option-style offenses leading up to Friday’s WIAA Division 3 state semifinal, but what Blang and the Silver Eagles were able to do not only took Logan coach Casey Knoble by surprise, but also his defense.
Blang rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes as he led the Silver Eagles to a 28-14 victory, putting an end to the Rangers’ historical season.
Monona Grove (13-0) will play Greendale (13-0) in next Friday’s championship tilt at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, where the Hawks will try to supply an answer for the 6-foot-3, 178-pound Monona Grove quarterback.
“He was even better than what I saw on film,” Knoble said of Blang, who completed 6 of 10 passes for 63 yards. “We just couldn’t get him stopped.”
It wasn’t only Blang moving the ball. Sophomore Toren Young ran for 113 yards and a touchdown to lead the Silver Eagles rushing attack, which accounted for 285 of Monona Grove’s 348 yards.
“They’re definitely a good option team,” senior defensive end/linebacker Calvin Wright said. “They know how to make moves and they block well. ... They’re truly a good option team and they deserve it.”
Blang was completing passes in tight spaces and faking out the defense regularly as he led the Silver Eagles to their first state championship game since 2004, when they lost to Waukesha West 24-7 in the Division 2 title game.
“We’ve played against (athletic) quarterbacks like that before — Central and Holmen, obviously — but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like (Blang) before,” said Logan senior Ben Witcraft, who forced a fumble on a sack in the third quarter. “He was all around and he could throw it, too.”
Despite Blang’s playmaking abilities, the Rangers (10-3) still found themselves with a chance late in the fourth quarter.
Logan junior Aric Elmore, who fought off triple coverage to catch a 20-yard TD pass as time expired in the first half, scored again on a 7-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to make it 21-14.
But after failing to come up with the onside kick, the Rangers couldn’t make the stop on defense. Young capped Monona Grove’s final scoring drive with a 29-yard TD run with less than 3 minutes to play.
“That was a great drive by a great team when it counted,” Knoble said. “If we could have got a stop, I felt pretty confident that we would have gone right back down and made a score. We were going for two, I’ll tell you that much.”
Elmore had five catches for 66 yards and 55 yards rushing on five carries. Logan senior Raekwon Tillman rushed for 64 yards on 13 carries, including a 19-yard run that helped set up Elmore’s 7-yard TD run.
“Logan is a great football team and they really did a great job,” Monona Grove coach Mike Stassi said. “They did a great job. Their kids are awesome and they really worked hard. They had a great season.”