The Hudson Raider football team faced a tall task and came out on the short end of a 37-12 score in the season opener against defending Division 1 state champion Mukwonago.
"It's good to play a team like that to see where we are and where we want to be," said new Raider head coach Adam Kowles. "The good news is that when we did things right, great things happened. When we did things wrong, things went wrong. It wasn't that we lacked intensity or couldn't match up physically. Most of our mistakes were mental. That's something we can work on."
Kowles will get a chance to right the ship Friday when the Raiders host New Richmond at 7 p.m. in another non-conference game. River Falls defeated New Richmond 15-0 last week, but Kowles is not taking the Tigers lightly.
River Falls defeated New Richmond 15-0 last week.
"They always play hard. They will come at you with intensity and we have to be ready to play."
Against Mukwonago, the Raiders started slow, played the Indians fairly even for a couple of quarters, but then ended with a rash of turnovers.
Mukwonago took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards in seven plays to open a 7-0 lead. It appeared the Raiders would stop the drive early when the Hudson defense knocked the Indians back 10 yards in the first two plays. Quarterback John Witte, however, completed a screen pass to Bruce Zalud, who gained 21 yards to keep the drive alive. Four plays later Zalud scored on a 34-yard run.
Hudson mishandled the kickoff and started on its own 8-yard line. Four plays later, a snap sailed over the punter's head and through the end zone
a safety for Mukwonago, and a 9-0 lead.
Mukwonago put together another drive late in the first quarter and drove 83 yards in nine plays to take 16-0 early in the second period. Zalud went the final 4 yards for the score.
In the final minutes of the half, Hudson drove 80 yards in nine plays that ended with a touchdown with just 18 seconds left in the half.
The score came when Hudson quarterback Jake Jenson tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Anderson. Other big plays in the drive included an 18-yard run by Nick Francis and a Jenson-to-Anderson pass that covered 13 yards. Hudson missed a two-point conversion attempt but trailed just 16-6 at the half.
The two teams played fairly even in the third quarter, but Mukwonago padded its lead with a late third-quarter touchdown. Starting on its own 48-yard line, quarterback Witte eventually scored on a 12-yard run, upping the score to 23-6.
Hudson fumbled on its next two possessions, and Mukwonago converted both miscues into touchdowns. The first came when Witte rambled 33 yards to give the Indians a 30-6 lead early in the fourth quarter; the second came when Anthony Mau scored from the 9-yard-line, making the score 37-6 with 5:15 left in the game.
Hudson again turned the ball over on its next possession, but held the Indians out of the end zone.
Starting on its own 20, Hudson used three explosive plays to go 80 yards to score with 1:33 left in the game. Jenson ran 50 yards to the Mukwonago 30. After a short first-down gain, Nick Francis ran 14 yards to the 14-yard line; John Dolan then ran 14 yards for the touchdown. Again, the two-point conversion attempt failed.
Offensively, Kowles was happy with the play of Anderson, Jenson and Nick Francis
"Kyle (Anderson) can go up and get the ball - we've got to get him the ball more," Kowles said. "Jake (Jenson) played pretty well at quarterback considering that it was his first starting assignment, and Nick (Francis) ran the ball well. He had eight carries and we have to get him the ball more."
On defense he mentioned that Nick Yoder played well.
Jenson led the Raider rushing attack with 71 yards in eight carries. Jenson added 67 yards in nine carries, and John Dolan had 47 yards in 10 carries and scored a touchdown. Jenson completed nine of 12 passes for 100 yards. Anderson caught five of the tosses for 83 yards and a touchdown. As a team, Hudson recorded 317 total yards, including 217 rushing and 100 passing.
Mukwonago totaled 428 yards, including 67 yards through the air. Quarterback Witte led the Indians with 130 rushing yards.
Parents night Friday
Hudson High School hosts varsity football Parent's Night Friday. Parents of junior and senior football players are asked to meet at Newton field at 4:45 p.m. for photos. Cost is $7 (checks payable to Capture It Now Photography). Parents of junior and senior football players will be announced with their son at half-time during the football game. Parents are to meet at the start of second quarter on the track under the goal posts to line up. Game time is 7 p.m.