REEDSBURG — DeForest football coach Mike Minick seeks balance between the running game and passing attack in the Norskies’ pro-set offense.
When Reedsburg presented a rugged front against the run Friday night, DeForest turned to its aerial attack led by senior quarterback Trey Schroeder, senior receiver Lane Larson and senior running back Evan Armstrong.
The left-handed Schroeder completed eight passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns, propelling the Norskies to a 28-0 victory in a Badger North Conference opener at Millennium Field.
“We knew we had matchups on the outside that we could take advantage of,” Schroeder said. “We just executed our passing. The running game was struggling a little bit. The first drive it looked good, but they adjusted.”
DeForest (3-0) also used a solid defensive effort to stymie Reedsburg’s flexbone offense and blank the Beavers (2-1).
“It’s a tough offense to defend — the triple option,” Minick said. “You have to be disciplined and carry out your assignments.”
Schroeder connected with Armstrong on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 36.8 seconds left in the first half to give the Norskies a 14-0 lead. Armstrong came out of the backfield and was open on a wheel route along the right sideline.
“They have good ball carriers, good receivers and a good quarterback,” Reedsburg coach Brian Pottinger said. “They can do whatever they want when they have balance like that. Obviously, it makes it tougher when you go against a team like that. … The quarterback threw some very accurate long balls.”
DeForest broke open the game on Schroeder’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Armstrong with 8 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter. Armstrong was playing in his first game this season after serving a suspension, Minick said.
“They were giving us fits up front,” Minick said. “They play hard. We had to go to the air game a little more than we normally do. We do like to get a balance of run-pass.”
Larson made a diving catch in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown with 4:37 left in the third quarter, giving the Norskies a 28-0 lead. The 6-foot-2 Larson had four receptions for 129 yards.
“We’ve been throwing together since fourth-grade year; he’s been my receiver,” Schroeder said. “I always have his back and he always has mine.”
Said Minick: “They have a good connection. That catch by Larson was outstanding. He has good feet and runs really good routes.”
Reedsburg marched to the DeForest 34-yard line on the game’s first series. Junior quarterback Connor Schyvinck directed the offense in place of senior Ethan Lee, who was injured in last week’s victory over Monona Grove.
But the Norskies’ defense stiffened and held on downs. DeForest then drove 66 yards for a touchdown.
Junior running back Gabe Finley swept around right end for a 4-yard touchdown run with 3:16 left in the first quarter.
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Key plays were Finley’s 25-yard run to the Reedsburg 41 on DeForest’s second play and Schroeder’s 12-yard pass to junior running back Mason Kirchberg to the Beavers’ 5-yard line.
It appeared DeForest’s 7-0 lead might be the halftime score, particularly after Finley lost a fumble at the Beavers’ 1-yard line with 2:28 left in the second quarter.
But after a punt, the Norskies got the ball back at the Beavers’ 30 with 43.6 seconds left before halftime. Schroeder then fired the 30-yard touchdown strike to Armstrong, increasing DeForest’s lead to 14-0.
Reedsburg — led by Schyvinck, senior running back Casey Campbell and senior fullback Joe Statz — rushed for almost 200 yards. But Reedsburg had no yards passing, attempting only three passes.
The Norskies’ defensive front — primarily led by senior defensive ends Trey Warne and Cole Yocum and tackles Alonzo Blevins and Edwyn Erickson — was active. And Pottinger said the Beavers’ offensive line didn’t play well.
“We got the win,” Schroeder said. “We got the job done. But we have a lot to work on. We know we didn’t play our best football. Our expectations are so much higher. … We’ve got to get better.”
DeForest 7 7 14 0 — 28
Reedsburg 0 0 0 0 — 0
D — Finley 4 run (Lokken kick)
D — Armstrong 30 pass from Schroeder (Lokken kick)
D — Armstrong 43 pass from Schroeder (Lokken kick)
D — Lane Larson 33 pass from Schroeder (Lokken kick)
First downs — D 12, R 11. Rushes -Yards — D 30-92, R 50 -191. Comp-Att-Int — D 8-16-0, R 0-3-0. Passing yards — D 235, R 0. Fumbles-Lost — D 2-1, R 4-1. Penalties-yards — D 6-30, R 2-10.
Rushing: D, Finley 10-48. R, Campbell 12-62. Passing: D, Schroeder 8-16-235-0. R, Schyvinck 0-3-0-0. Receiving: D, L. Larson 4-129, Armstrong 2-73; R, none.