Last Friday’s game was an absolute must-win situation for the Lake Country Lutheran football program, who held a 3-3 conference record going into the matchup. To secure a spot in Wisconsin high school football playoffs, a team must first obtain at least a .500 win percentage against conference opponents, something the Lightning had been paying close attention to heading into their ninth game. Thankfully, a dominant 48-19 win over the Shoreland Lutheran Pacers in the last game of the regular season booked LCL’s ticket into the playoffs, a place they had become very familiar with in recent years.
Levi Benes kicked things off for his Lightning, scoring their first touchdown of the night not even five minutes into the game. A two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but LCL had still gained an early lead.
“Tonight the blockers were great, I got around the corner just so I could score.” Benes commented on his nine-yard run.
It was just sixteen seconds later that the next Lightning player reached the end zone, this time being Maddux Kiley, taking it 47 yards in from quarterback Jackson Menzel. Kiley also ran in a successful two-point conversion, evening out LCL’s lead to 14-0.
Running back Matt Dobson, who was coming off a monster game the previous week, took his turn scoring for the night, this one being 26 yards. Due to the wet and cold weather, Kiley’s extra point kick was no good. The lead was growing larger and larger though, with or without an extra point. Just before heading into halftime, Menzel, who went 7-11 on the night for 168 yards and two touchdowns, hit Benes another time for a 21-yard touchdown.
“On that long pass, Jackson [Menzel] threw a great ball and put it in a great place. The defender couldn’t get it, so I got it and ran it in. It was pretty much just great team effort.” said Benes of his second score, and his team’s play all throughout the first half.
His touchdown, along with Kiley’s successful kick through the uprights gave the Lightning a 27-point cushion at the half. LCL’s offense was looking impressively explosive and the defense had held the Pacers scoreless so far.
While Shoreland would eventually reach the end zone in the second half, the Lightning struck once more before then. Dobson reached again, 56 yards this time, upping the score to 34-0.
But finally, the Pacers’ Joseph Kayon provided the first six points of the night for his team, three minutes into the half. However, so as not to allow a comeback, LCL’s freshman Nate Graf scored his first-ever varsity touchdown.
Kayon was next up, taking one in for 70 yards. Shoreland’s extra point attempt was yet again successful, making the score 41-12. Just 13 seconds later on the following kickoff, Blake Thelen ran the ball 74 yards back for the last, but not least, Lightning score of the night. With a minute remaining in the third quarter, Kayon yet again scored for the Pacers, this time going for 77 yards. His third touchdown set the scoreboard at 48-19, which would be cemented when neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
It hasn’t been common recently for the Lightning to have to wait until the last game of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth, so postgame emotions were understandably running high, in a positive manner. From then on, the team eagerly awaited the news that would come out the following day - LCL had been granted the #5 seed in their playoff bracket and would travel to take on #4 Oostburg on Friday, October 21st.