(Photos by Dan Young)By Paul LeckerSports ReporterMADISON — The Spencer/Columbus Catholic football team finally met its match.After cruising through the regular season and the playoffs undefeated, the Rockets could not keep up with the high-powered Amherst offense and dropped a 42-0 decision in the WIAA Division 5 state championship game Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium.Amherst (14-0) scored on its first six possessions as senior quarterback Garrett Groshek, the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association State Offensive Player of the Year, seemingly did whatever he wanted to the Rockets’ defense.Groshek had touchdown runs of 29 and 78 yards in the first quarter — the first points Spencer/Columbus had allowed in the opening quarter all season — and threw a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter to put the Falcons up 28-0.Groshek added two more passing TDs in the third quarter to push the lead to 42-0. He finished with 161 yards rushing on just 12 carries and was 11 of 14 passing for 172 yards. The four touchdown passes tied a state finals record that Groshek now shares with Robert Evans of Franklin (2006) and Dan Schneider of West Salem (2007).Spencer Columbus linebacker Elijah Welsh hits Amherst running back Brandon Piotrowski. (Dan Young photo)“I’m extremely proud of them,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jason Gorst said regarding his team. “They are a fine group of young men, tremendous, tremendous kids. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but I couldn’t be more proud of them.”Spencer/Columbus (13-1) had its opportunities as well in the first half, but could not cash in.The Rockets reached the Amherst 48 on the opening possession of the game before having to punt and again got to midfield after picking up two first downs the next time they had the ball before stalling.After Amherst went up 21-0 on a 12-yard TD pass from Groshek to Amaziah McCall 2:11 into the second quarter, Spencer/Columbus’ Hunter Luepke returned the kickoff 65 yards to the Falcons’ 4. Luepke ran the ball four-straight times, fumbling into the end zone on the final attempt with Amherst recovering.The Falcons went 80 yards in 10 plays to score again, this time on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Groshek to Joshua Cisewski.The Rockets responded with their best drive of the game, going 65 yards in 15 plays. The drive reached the Amherst 11 before two incomplete passes by Calvin Lenz, and an interception on fourth down, the final play of the half, ended it.“It was just hard to see,” senior tight end/defensive end Ryan Busse said. “We weren’t able to connect and work together tonight. Things just didn’t go our way, and that’s kind of hard to see. Our offense has been good all year, and then that comes.”Groshek connected with McCall (23 yards) and Cisewski (33 yards) again in the third quarter to finish off the scoring as the Rockets gained just 25 yards and one first down in the second half.“He’s a tremendous competitor and a great athlete,” Gorst said of Groshek. “He makes plays, doesn’t give up. He’s a great football player.”Overall, Amherst outgained Spencer/Columbus 410-124 and held the Rockets’ vaunted running game to just 67 yards on 32 carries. The Rockets came into the game averaging 329 yards rushing per game.“Offensively we were trying to run our base, the same plays we’ve been running all year long, and it was working in the beginning,” Lenz, a senior quarterback/cornerback said. “You have to credit (Amherst). They came out really well on defense, they shed blocks, and they were prepared.”The state title is Amherst’s second after reaching the championship game for the third time in the past four years. The Falcons also won the Division 5 title in 2012 and lost to Lancaster in last year’s final.The trip to state was the first in the 14-year history of the Spencer/Columbus Catholic co-op and second ever for Spencer, which lost the 1982 D-5 championship game 22-19 to Osseo-Fairchild.(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)Falcons 42, Rockets 0Spencer/Columbus 0 0 0 0 – 0Amherst 14 14 14 0 – 42First QuarterA – Garrett Groshek 29 run (Cameron Gaulke kick), 5:58.A – Groshek 78 run (Gaulke kick), 0:26.Second QuarterA – Amaziah McCall 12 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 9:49.A – Joshua Cisewski 17 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 3:37.Third QuarterA – McCall 23 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 9:51.A – Cisewski 33 pass from Groshek (Gaulke kick), 5:29.Team StatisticsFirst downs: A 18; SC 8Rushing (att-yards): A 28-238; SC 32-67.Passing (comp-att-yards-int): A 11-14-172-0; SC 8-17-57-2.Penalties (no.-yards): A 4-30; SC 1-5.Fumbles (total-lost): A 0-0; SC 1-1.Punting (no.-avg.): A 1-26.0; SC 4-18.0.Individual StatisticsRushing: A, Garrett Groshek 12-161, Brandon Piotrowski 14-78, Devin Ostrowski 1-0, Team 1-minus 1. SC, Hunter Luepke 16-44, Noah Zastrow 3-12, Jonny Tomke 4-9, Carson Hildebrandt 1-5, Ethan Meece 1-4, Jon Bauer 1-3, Hunter Hildebrandt 1-1, Calvin Lenz 4-0, Bubba Post 1-minus 1.Passing: A, Groshek 11-14-172-0. SC, Lenz 8-17-57-2.Receiving: A, Joshua Cisewski 4-61, Amaziah McCall 3-52, Marcus Glodowski 2-26, Dalton Nemzoff 1-28, Hunter Warner 1-5. SC, Tomke 2-12, H. Hildebrandt 2-12, Luepke 2-9, Zastrow 1-15, Austin Post 1-9.Punting: A, Piotrowski 1-26.0. SC, Luepke 4-18.0.Fumble recoveries (defense): A, Benjamin Gutschow.Interceptions (defense): A, Gutschow, McCall.Records: Amherst 14-0; Spencer/Columbus 13-1.
For the City TimesMADISON – The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (11-8) fell behind early, but battled back and held off a late rally to defeat the Madison Mallards (14-6) by a final score of 4-3 on June 16.The Mallards scored one run in both the third and fourth innings to take a 2-0 lead. The Rafters responded with two runs in the top of the fifth on an RBI triple by CJ Willis and an RBI by Harry Fullerton to tie the game.Jake Dunham gave the Rafters the lead with a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning to go up 3-2. Willis, who made his Rafters debut today, hit a sacrifice fly to left field in the ninth to give the Rafters an insurance run heading to the bottom of the frame.The Mallards threatened with a solo shot to left in the bottom of the ninth, but Wisconsin Rapids held off the rally and hung on to win.Matt Osterberg pitched five innings as the starter for Rapids, striking out four batters and earning the win. Garrett French pitched the rest of the way and notched six strikeouts in relief. Madison’s Deylen Miley is credited with the loss.Wisconsin Rapids returns to Witter Field June 17 to take on the Mallards at 7:05 p.m.
DUBIOUS DISTINCTION: BlairTony Blair may have won the war in Iraq but it appears he isn't exactly winning the hearts of the people of Britain.In an online survey conducted by Channel 4, the prime minister, who celebrated his 50th birthday recently, has surpassed 12 politicians and screen, stage and sports,DUBIOUS DISTINCTION: BlairTony Blair may have won the war in Iraq but it appears he isn't exactly winning the hearts of the people of Britain.In an online survey conducted by Channel 4, the prime minister, who celebrated his 50th birthday recently, has surpassed 12 politicians and screen, stage and sports celebrities to win the not exactly-coveted No. 1 slot in the list of the 100 most hated people in Britain. His much-in-the-news advocate wife, Cherie, also figures in the list at No. 89. Blair is followed by buxom model Jordan. "What goes around comes around," said Jordan on hearing that she was at No. 2. "I am a great believer in that, so eat your apple pie." Producers of Channel 4 show said what she probably meant was "humble pie". If the New Labour leader is heading the list, his Conservative predecessor and former prime minister Magaret Thatcher is not far behind. The Iron Lady is at No. 3. Hero-turned-villain journalist Martin Bashir - famous for prodding Princess Diana to talk about her rocky relationship with Charles and, more recently, for his controversial interview with popstar Michael Jackson - is at No. 5. The list has a good sprinkling of royal names led by the Queen at No. 10 and followed by Prince Charles at 24, Prince Edward at No. 40 and the Countess of Essex and Princess Ann further down.Though the poll is dominated by celebrities who are normally associated with "C" lists, it also has musical genius Andrew Lloyd-Webber, whose Broadway hits like Phantom of the Opera and lately Bombay Dreams don't seem to have entertained some. Even the UK's golden couple - Victoria and David Beckham - have not been spared. Victoria is at No. 13 and her husband at No. 91.advertisementAccording to the rules, the nominees had to be British, alive and not in prison or pending trial. So author Jeffrey Archer, who is currently serving a jail term, was out of the running. But he is probably better off watching from the cell than being in the thick of action.
TagsMLS NewsAbout the authorIan FerrisShare the loveHave your say MLS looking at sponsorship for VARby Ian Ferrisa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveMajor League Soccer (MLS) is 'actively selling' sponsorship inventory for the match breaks created by video assistant referee (VAR) technology, according to league executive Carter Ladd, reports, www.sportspromedia.com/.The North American soccer league's senior vice president of business development, confirmed to the Sports Business Journal (SBJ) that MLS is engaged in a "couple of ongoing conversations" with companies interested in sponsoring VAR, which was introduced to the league in 2017.The SBJ's report added that one in three MLS matches this season have involved a VAR review, which is intended to correct clear and obvious errors made by the on-field officials relating to major moments such as goals, penalties and red cards.MLS also told the SBJ that a potential VAR sponsorship could see a brand be on screen for the entire length of a review, while the company could also get mentioned by broadcasters."There's very, very few opportunities where a brand can become part of the fabric of the sport in a meaningful way," said Ladd of a potential VAR sponsorship, speaking to the SBJ. He added: "If there's going to be some sort of product integration [with VAR], it's got to be authentic. It's got to be endemic."
The big hittersDustin Johnson (odds to win: 12-to-1): Johnson entered Augusta last season having won three consecutive tournaments. He was among the favorites to win. Then he fell down a flight of stairs.This could be the year he exorcises those what-could-have-been demons.The 33-year-old is tied for the PGA Tour lead in par-4 scoring average and leads the tour in par-5 scoring average. He’s also No. 1 in total strokes gained, a metric that measures each shot a player takes based on how much it reduces his expected score on a given hole, relative to the field average. And Johnson’s putting has been sensational; he ranks in the top 15 in strokes gained with the putter. With an ostentatious ability to drive the ball — he leads the tour in strokes gained off the tee — Johnson owns five of the tour’s 50 longest drives this season, providing ample opportunities for attendees to crow “mashed potatoes.”1Please don’t.Johnson has owned the longest holes at the Augusta National Golf Club, with a career mark of 46 under par on par-5s, according to ESPN Stats & Info. To compete this weekend, though, he’ll need to improve on par-4s, on which he’s a career 44 over par.Bubba Watson (odds to win: 16-to-1): The two-time Masters champion enters this weekend as arguably the player on tour in the best form.After going more than 40 events without a win, he has won twice in the past two months — at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Genesis Open. The same guy who was contemplating retirement last season during a rapid weight loss is now vying to become the ninth player to win the Masters at least three times.The 39-year-old’s unorthodox style feels tailor-made for rounds under the Georgia pines. The course allows him to attempt 45-yard hook shots with a pitching wedge, for example, and to uncork his 316.2-yard drives. And because he annihilates his tee shots, Watson has over his career played the par-5s at the Masters 65 under par, according to ESPN Stats & Info.The short game has traditionally held Watson back, but he has moved from outside the top 140 in strokes gained on shots approaching the green and with the putter last season to inside the top 80 in both this season.Rory McIlroy (odds to win: 12-to-1): With a roaring final-round 64, McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month, his first victory since the fall of 2016. Then came shots of vodka with the media.A win this weekend would complete the career Grand Slam for the 28-year-old. Since 2014, only Jordan Spieth has led more rounds in major tournaments than McIlroy has — and no player save for McIlroy can claim four top-10 finishes at Augusta over the past five years.After an injury-riddled 2016-17 campaign, McIlroy has surged up the leaderboard in a number of metrics, ranking in the top 25 in total strokes gained, strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained with the putter. His drives are averaging a blistering 314.1 yards, a top-five mark on tour.To win, McIlroy will have to improve on holes 10, 11 and 12, where he’s a combined 26 over par since the final round in 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Info.The kidsJon Rahm (odds to win: 20-to-1): It can be easy to forget that Rahm is 23 years old — and not only because he has the face of a 35-year-old accountant. “Rahmbo” has been so good so fast that he’s the highest-ranked player to not have a major championship to his name, according to ESPN Stats & Info.Rahm’s putting has improved mightily: He’s jumped from No. 49 in strokes gained with the putter and No. 66 in putts per round last season to No. 32 and No. 13, respectively, this season.He cranks the ball 306.7 yards off the tee, which makes him No. 23 on tour. But he ranks much higher in strokes gained off the tee — second — because whether he’s blasting his driver or using another club, he’s effective in maximizing his first shots, covering 67.5 percent of hole yardage with his tee shots. Club selection is paramount at Augusta, particularly off the tee — will Rahm’s skills there and his improved putting help him notch a win?Jordan Spieth (odds to win: 10-to-1): Last weekend’s final-round 66 at the Houston Open gave Spieth’s supporters a reason to be optimistic about Augusta, where Spieth’s track record ranges from the sublime to the five-alarm tire fire.In the aggregate, though, Spieth has been dominant at the Masters: In his four starts, he hasn’t finished lower than 11th; three times, he ranked in the top 10. In 2015, he became the fifth-ever wire-to-wire winner and tied the all-time lowest winning score (270, -18). Since 2015, Spieth has been 20 shots or better than any other player at majors, according to ESPN Stats & Info.But Spieth has fallen off a cliff with his putter. In each of the past three seasons, he ranked 42nd or better in strokes gained with the putter. In 2018, he’s No. 185. But that hasn’t stopped him from attacking the longer holes on tour; he ranks in the top 20 in par-4 and par-5 scoring average. With a win, Spieth would be just the third player to claim four majors before his 25th birthday (the other two are Woods and Young Tom Morris). He turns 25 in July.Justin Thomas (odds to win: 10-to-1): Had he turned in a stronger performance last month, Thomas could have entered this weekend as the top player in the world. Should he win this weekend, few would question his place atop the global leaderboard.The 24-year-old has won an astonishing seven times since the start of the 2016 season, more than any player on tour. But the occasionally profane Kentucky native has struggled in his two previous appearances at Augusta, where he’s never shot in the 60s or finished in the top 20.However, Thomas comes into the tournament with much more momentum this time around. He has jumped from a No. 45 ranking a season ago to No. 5 this season in percentage of yardage covered by tee shots, largely because his drives are averaging 312.5 yards, the longest average distance he’s posted since he turned pro.The Europeans (and one Canadian)Paul Casey (odds to win: 20-to-1): The 40-year-old is one of the the least-discussed veterans in this year’s field, and though he has repeatedly demonstrated his poise at majors, he’s never quite managed a win.Casey has finished in the top 10 at each of the last three Masters, and he has logged top-10 marks at every major at least once in his career.This season, only Sergio Garcia, Johnson and Casey rank in the top five in both strokes gained tee to green and total strokes gained. The Englishman has also notched a win stateside this year at the Valspar Championship, though it’s possible his victory was overshadowed when a certain someone on a comeback tour finished tied for second.Alex Noren (odds to win: 40-to-1): The Swede hasn’t finished outside the top 36 all season, racking up three top-10 finishes. In search of his first major victory, Noren has come to the right place. Eight of the last 11 Masters winners had never won a major before taking home the green jacket, according to ESPN Stats & Info.Noren cut his teeth on the European Tour, where he won five times between July 2016 and May 2017. He enters this weekend ranked in the top 20 in total strokes gained and in strokes gained with the putter, on approach, and from tee to green.Justin Rose (odds to win: 12-to-1): Rose has been a perennial contender at Augusta, and this could be the year he finally breaks through and wins a green jacket. He has finished in the top 10 in the tournament each of the last three years, twice coming in second, and over the last three Masters combined, he has the best score relative to par of anyone on the tour. Rose has ended up in the top 25 in 10 of his 12 starts at the Masters, which is an absurd success rate. Among players with at least five starts at the tournament, only Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan have made the top 25 more consistently.Adam Hadwin (odds to win: 150-to-1): A Canadian made the list! Hadwin has finished among the top 20 in every tournament he’s played in since early February. If he can withstand inconsistencies off the tee (he ranks No. 129 in strokes gained off the tee) and on the green (No. 131 in strokes gained with the putter), his approach game can do most of the work (No. 22 in strokes gained on shots approaching the green, No. 7 in strokes gained around the green). This year also marks the 15th anniversary of Mike Weir’s improbable victory at Augusta to become the first Canadian man to win a major. Hadwin has finished in the top 10 three times so far this season, and like Weir, he’s deft with the short game. It’s Masters week, which means that it’s time to cancel your weekend plans, turn the dulcet tones of Jim Nantz’s voice up as loud as your television and neighbors will allow, and watch — in its piano-saturated glory — golf’s most popular event.The 82nd installment of the Masters will be the smallest field since the mid-1990s, and it will be the most competitive in at least the past decade. There are 10 players with shorter than 20-to-1 odds to win the tournament (two more are at 20-to-1 exactly), according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as of Tuesday. That’s the most of any Masters since at least 2008, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group.Tiger Woods, a golfer you might have heard of, is in that group, as is another familiar name: Phil Mickelson. But they aren’t the only players worth paying attention to. Below, I’ve highlighted the other marquee players you should look out for, as well as the under-the-radar players who could find themselves in a green jacket by Sunday night.
Former Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop announces his decision to enter the 2018 NBA draft with his parents during a press conference on March 26. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe decision that was made only a few days ago was not an easy one for Ohio State redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop. But he felt it was the right one.Bates-Diop decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA Draft, he announced while sitting beside his parents at a press conference Monday afternoon.“I love this place. I’ve been here for four years and the memories I’ve made here, I had to weigh that versus my future,” Bates-Diop said. “Weighing all of my options, talking to my family, the coaches, former and pro teammates currently, I think it was the best decision for me.”Bates-Diop said he will sign with an agent and eliminate the possibility of returning to Ohio State for another season, but he has not decided on an agency yet because he has been solely focused on the decision. One factor that Bates-Diop said made a huge impact on his decision was his graduation from Ohio State in December. Bates-Diop placed an importance on leaving Ohio State with a degree.In addition to his graduation, the star forward considered what he had to gain, or rather, what he had to lose by staying another season. He fractured his leg near the beginning of his junior season and was forced to take a medical redshirt after appearing in just nine games. The fear of another injury provided Bates-Diop with incentive to leave early and avoid the chance of another injury harming his draft stock. “I think he realized the timing is right given that he’s 22 [years old] and given that he’s got his degree and all of those things kind of lined up,” Holtmann said. “I think he realized he made a significant contribution to our program in his time here but certainly this year in both his play and his leadership.”In his final season at Ohio State, Bates-Diop capped off his career with his best season, taking home the Big Ten Player of The Year trophy and leading the Buckeyes to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.Feeling that he was leaving the program at a point where it only had an upward trajectory, Bates-Diop took into account the success of the team this past season and realized it was the perfect time to leave.“It’s the best feeling and kind of one of the best parts about all of this,” Bates-Diop said. “The last couple of years have been down for Ohio State basketball and to do what we did and what I did individually this year and to kind of leave on that note is a bittersweet feeling but it’s probably the best way to go.”He said he had been debating his future since the start of Big Ten play and that as much as he tried to keep the focus solely on the present, he couldn’t help but look toward the future.Now he feels relieved to have a decision made so he can focus on the next chapter of his basketball career beyond Ohio State.“These last four years have been the best four years of my life, and it’s been a great journey,” Bates-Diop said.