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MARTINEZ HAS BIG-PLAY APTITUDE

HOLMEN — Dillon Martinez has scored 14 touchdowns this season.

The Holmen High School senior has also completed two touchdown passes.

Thirteen of those 16 touchdowns have been on plays that have covered at least 22 yards.

Six of them — two catches, two runs, one punt return, one pass — have been on plays of more than 40 yards.

To say that Martinez is a big play waiting to happen is an understatement.

He hopes to have one or two big plays in him for the Vikings’ WIAA Division 2 second-round playoff football game against Central at the Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex tonight.

“Thinking about the season so far, I think we’re the best team at hitting big plays,” Martinez said. “We’ll grind it out if we have to, but the big play can demoralize a defense.”

The Red Raiders (8-2) avoided the really big scoring plays in a 33-14 loss to the Vikings on Sept. 13. Holmen scored five TDs, but the longest was on a 19-yard run by Martinez.

Lamont Murphy even struck with a 56-yard TD run against Holmen’s defense.

But Martinez and the Vikings (10-0) have been very good at finding ways to demoralize opposing defenses.

Holmen has 22 scoring plays of more than 20 yards and 14 of more than 40 this season.

Those numbers show that the team is getting the most of its triple-option attack that can turn some drives into slow, methodical drains on the clock.

Quarterback Tyler Anderson gets better each game with the timing of his pitches and decisions he makes on each snap.

That has allowed Martinez, Greg Rooney and Anderson to hit big play after big play.

“What a lot of people don’t understand is that plays like that have to be set up in the triple option,” Holmen coach Steve King said. “When Dillon, Greg and Tyler get those big plays, they happen because of a good read by Tyler.

“When he makes that right read, we can get that pitch to Dillon, and 60-some yards later, he’s in the end zone.”

— By TODD SOMMERFELDT

CENTRAL WANTS BALL IN MURPHY'S HANDS

Lamont Murphy had never played fullback before coming to Central High School.

In one season, he looks like a natural.

Murphy, a transfer student who sat out last year under WIAA rules, has flourished in the Red Raiders’ triple option offense. In nine games, he’s rushed for 1,528 yards and 20 touchdowns on 153 carries, leading Central (8-2) to a WIAA second round playoff game tonight against Holmen (10-0) at Veterans Memorial Field.

“That was my spot on the team,” said Murphy, who didn’t worry about playing a new position his senior year. “Everyone had a role. I came in at fullback. It was something they needed.”

The original plan was to keep Murphy at halfback, but injuries — and Central’s offensive identity — prompted the switch.

“Fullback is the guy that gets the ball the most on our team,” Central coach Tony Servais said. “It would make sense to put Lamont in that spot, get the ball in his hands.”

There were still some adjustments to be made.

Murphy, who played tailback as a sophomore at Monona Grove, wasn’t used to getting the ball so close to the line of scrimmage, nor was he used to the type of handoffs he was receiving from quarterback Mitchell Johnson-Martin in the triple option.

He got the hang of it, then kept getting better and better.

He had three touchdowns in a season-opening victory over Eau Claire North and rushed for 134 yards and two scores against Eau Claire Memorial.

In his past three outings — he sat out a Week 9 victory over Sparta nursing an injury — he’s rushed for 739 yards and 10 TDs, including a 300-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 28-26 victory over Fort Atkinson in the first round of the playoffs last Friday.

“He’s been running really hard the last few weeks,” said Servais, who said improved blocking by the offensive line and receivers has helped. “I’ve been real impressed with him.”

That will need to continue tonight against the Vikings, who built their undefeated season on the strength of their 3-4 defense. In the teams’ first meeting Sept. 13, Murphy rushed for 120 yards on his first six carries — one of which was a 56-yard TD run. But cramps and Holmen’s defense kept him to just 18 yards on his next seven carries in a 33-14 victory for Holmen.

“I just want to do whatever I can do to help my team out,” Murphy said.

— By JOHN CASPER JR.


ELMORE IS ALWAYS A THREAT FOR LOGAN

It’s happened so frequently that he can’t recall the exact number of occurrences.

Logan High School junior Aric Elmore has been an explosive weapon this season for the Rangers (8-2) on offense, defense and special teams. He’s returned two kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns. He’s scored on a 57-yard run and has taken an interception 48 yards for a score.

And those are just the plays that have stood.

Elmore has also had a handful off long returns nullified because of penalties. Elmore said it’s five or six but Logan football coach Casey Knoble said it’s closer to seven or eight. Whatever the number, it’s forced Elmore to delay celebrating with his teammates following a big score.

“The first thing I look for is a flag,” said Elmore, who returned a kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown in Logan’s 34-13 victory over Evansville/Albany in last week’s WIAA Division 3 first round playoff game.

“If I see one, I get a little mad about it, but then I move on and go to the next play.”

Elmore had a 60-yard punt return and a 69-yard reception called back last week. It appeared his kickoff return was going to be erased because of a Logan penalty, but the infraction was enforced after the ensuing kickoff.

“Having a player like that, it just makes everything easier for me,” Logan senior quarterback Mitchell Schreiner said. “If I can get it in the vicinity of Aric, he’s going to catch the ball and he’s going to make something happen with it.”

Elmore joined the Rangers midway through the 2012 season as a sophomore. He moved to La Crosse from Caledonia last year and began playing with the Rangers’ JV team before making his varsity debut Sept. 28, 2012 against Aquinas.

“We’ve talked to (Caledonia football coach) Brent (Schroeder) at times at 7-on-7 and stuff and they would love to have him back,” Knoble said. “But I don’t think we’re giving him back.”

Elmore can change the momentum of a game any time he’s on the field. He possesses the speed and agility to turn a simple play into a huge gain. When Logan travels to Reedsburg (9-1) tonight, Elmore will more than likely have the opportunity to put that explosiveness on display. The only real question is whether or not those plays will stand.

— By DAVID GRISWOLD


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