Goslings host MG with hopes of earning share of league title
Watertown’s football team closes out the regular season against defending Badger South champion Monona Grove on Friday at Landsverk Field at 7 p.m.
Monona Grove (8-0, 6-0 in conference) clinched at least a title share with a 42-7 win over Stoughton last week. Watertown (6-2, 5-1) hopes to earn a share of its first conference championship since 1996 with a win over the Silver Eagles, who are riding a 17-game winning streak in league play. No conference team has finished within single digits of MG the past two seasons.
The closest any team has come to the Silver Eagles during that stretch was Oregon, which lost to MG 21-7 in Week 3.
“They’ve looked very good on film,” Watertown football coach Benji Kamrath said. “They are very explosive on offense again. They play tough, physical defense.”
Monona Grove’s offense is led by senior quarterback Jordan Bishop, whose 1,333 passing yards are the second best in the conference; senior running back Jalen Ostrowsky (530 yards rushing); junior running back Brady Killerlain (426 yards rushing); senior receiver Payton Spalding, whose 436 receiving yards are second best in the conference; and senior receiver Sam Hepp, whose 411 receiving yards are fourth best in the conference.
“They run in a gun spread similar to what we run and what Stoughton is running and Waunakee is running,” Kamrath said. “We have a lot of familiarity with their scheme.
“Their quarterback is very dynamic. He’s good in the run game, scrambling when things break down. It’s similar to how we use our quarterback. They take lot of shots downfield. They try to get one-on-one matchups, and go for big hitters. We have to be very good over the top and not give up the big play and also defend the run.
“Their running back is as good as any in the conference. He’s very quick and has very good vision. He plays behind a good offensive line. They lost a lot of seniors, but they’ve been able to reload on the offensive side of the ball. The kids have stepped up.”
Watertown’s defense has played well throughout the year, and familiarity with the scheme will be helpful.
“I felt like we played very well defensively throughout the whole year,” Kamrath said. “We have to be prepared to give ourselves best opportunity to win and slow their offense down and hopefully create some turnovers.”
Watertown brings its own offensive fireworks to this one.
Junior quarterback Ethan Pauly leads the Badger South in passing with 1,752 yards. Junior receiver Daniel Denault leads the league in receiving with 507 yards, while junior receiver Kory Stas is third in receiving yardage (419).
Monona Grove matches up with a 43 base defense.
“They do some stuff coverage wise, man or zone,” Kamrath said. “They have a lot of good players on the defensive side of the ball. They have held some very good offenses to lower numbers. We definitely have to make some plays and win the one-on-ones in the pass game, and we need to be on and consistent for us to be able to move the ball and score.
“We have to run the ball more effectively if we are going to sustain drives and not just rely on the pass. We have some good playmakers.
“I watched the film (on our 31-20 loss to Oregon last week) a number of times. I feel like we were as good or better than them on both sides of the ball and on special teams.
“It came down to a few plays where we made mistakes or just didn’t make the play. They were able to capitalize. We can’t give teams short fields.
As good as our defense was, we put them in tough positions. At the same, on third and fourth down, we have to find ways to make the play and get off the field.
“Monona Grove has shown, once they get up on you, it’s really hard to come back. We have to get off to a fast start, keep our offense on the field longer. When we get on defense, we have to give them a long field and hope they makes mistakes. We have to make plays.”
Several of Watertown’s playoff teams this decade have had a shot to earn a share of a conference title. None have succeeded thus far, but Friday’s game is another chance at it.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for our kids and staff, to have an opportunity to get a three-way tie for a conference title, you can’t ask for anything more as a player or coach. That’s what you prepare for all year. I know our kids will be fired up. After Oregon, we know we left some plays out there.
“To win a conference title for the first time in a long time, we have to earn it. It won’t come easy. If we win, we get a high seed and more home games. We get better matchups in the playoffs. It’s an exciting opportunity, one we’re looking forward to being a part of.”
With the exception of junior receiver Cade Oiler, who was lost for the season to a broken fibula suffered two weeks ago, Kamrath expects to have all hands on deck for this one.
“I feel like we got out of that (last game) really healthy,” Kamrath said.
“We should be ready to play. We’ll work through the bumps and bruises. We’re in a good spot right now. Guys who didn’t have as much experience … we’ve moved some stuff around. Some guys made some big plays for us. Cade being gone is definitely not easy but Kory (Stas) had an unbelievable night (with three touchdowns last week).
“Danny (Denault) has been consistently great all year. I have no doubt teams will try to take those two away. Other guys, Evan (Pauly) and Luke (Gifford) have to find ways to make a big play. I think they are both capable of doing that.
“Just us being able to run the ball, too … I thought we did a lot of good things against Oregon. I love our team. I like where we’re at right now.
It’s a matter now of making the most of the opportunities. We’ve been in this situation a couple times in my 10 years and came out on the losing end. I know our kids will give it everything they have and play with a lot of determination and a lot of heart (and want to) find a way to get us that first conference title.”