Stratford entered the 2019 WIAA Division 5 state championship game with a 649-7 scoring edge in 13 previous games, allowing its first touchdown last week in a win over Amherst. In going up 13-0 after two drives on Lake Country Lutheran, it appeared the Tigers were on their way to another impressive win and the completion of a season of history.
Lake Country Lutheran had other ideas. The Lightning's defense came up huge, quarterback Luke Haertle was the best player on the field, and the Lightning rallied for a 22-13 win in one of the biggest upsets in state history.
Taking advantage of a couple negative offensive plays for Stratford and a shanked punt, the Lightning got on the board midway through the second quarter when Jacob Studer hit Andrew Schumacher on a reverse pass from five yards out.
The score remained 13-7 at halftime, but the second half would belong to Lake Country Lutheran. The Lightning limited Stratford to negative-five yards of offense in the second half, controlling the Tigers' run game and forcing negative plays in the passing game.
While it was still 13-7 into the fourth quarter, Lake Country Lutheran completed a 86-yard touchdown drive in nine plays when quarterback Bryce Haertle hit Schumacher from 28 yards out. A missed extra point left the game tied at 13.
Lake Country Lutheran would score on its next possession as well when Haertle scrambled 20 yards for a touchdown, giving the Lightning a 20-13 lead with 4:25 left.
Stratford would go 16 yards the wrong way on its next drive, culminating in a Lake Country Lutheran safety by Chase Caliendo. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Lake Country Lutheran, and the team ran out the clock for the shocking 22-13 win.
Luke Haertle completed just 12-of-26 passes and threw an interception, but his ability to make big plays through the air and on the ground made a huge difference for the Lightning offense. He finished with 210 passing yards and a score, adding five rushes for 34 yards and another touchdown.
Travis Wilson serves as the WisSports.net General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board as the Website and Communications Director and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball) and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.
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