RACINE — It was a night to forget, other than the hard lessons that could serve these guys well down the road.
The Racine Horlick football team was held to 106 yards in a 14-0 Southeast Conference-opening loss to Bradford during a night when nothing seemed to go right for the Rebels.
Quarterback Spencer Schick was lost for the game with an undisclosed injury. A Horlick rushing attack that had been among the most dominant in the state the previous three seasons averaged just 2.7 yards per attempt. There were nine penalties for 80 yards by the Rebels.
In fact, this night was so ugly that the game was stopped for several minutes at the start of the fourth quarter when a Horlick cheerleader was removed from the field by an ambulance after apparently fainting.
And afterward, it was apparent that a Horlick team that had gone 26-8 the previous three seasons has some work to do. Horlick coach Brian Fletcher knew it was going to be a work in progress after losing 15 starters from last season, and it was just that once again Friday night.
“When you have that many guys who are young, you’re going to have some growing pains,” Fletcher said. “Some of our young guys kind of got baptized by fire tonight and got punched in the mouth a little bit. But, hey, that’s a solid team. You can tell they were in the weight room during the offseason, and they came to play tonight.”
Bradford entered the game 0-2 but held its own in a 15-0 season-opening loss to Southern Lakes Conference power Waterford before losing 42-14 to Lake Geneva Badger in Week 2. The Red Devils put it together against Horlick, scoring all their points in the first quarter.
With 5 minutes, 38 seconds left, junior Brock Lampe scored his first varsity touchdown on a 6-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Nate Olson. And with 1:11 remaining in the quarter, senior running back Will Darden scored on a 1-yard plunge.
That was it from a Red Devils offense that produced 230 yards. But that was all that was needed, as Horlick (1-2) struggled throughout the game to get something going.
“We started 11 sophomores tonight,” Bradford coach Troy Bowe said. “We’re super young, but they grew up a little tonight. We left a lot out there. We were in the red zone a lot and should have had a lot more points than we did. We dropped a touchdown pass there at the end and missed a couple field goals. So we’ve got to get better, and we will get better.
“And I know they’re real young, too. This is really the first time we played a team our same age.”
Highlights by Horlick were few. Bruce Cosey rushed for 45 yards on 10 carries, and Allieas Williams added 27 on nine attempts. Defensive back Mike Weaver had a couple of sacks. Freshman Blake Fletcher, who replaced Schick at quarterback, had a 70-yard punt and played on both sides of the ball.
But the thunder-and-lightning offense that Horlick was known for the last three years was nowhere to be seen.
And it only gets tougher for the Rebels next week, when they play at Oak Creek.
“We’re going to try and get better every week,” Brian Fletcher said. “I thought last week we did (in a 41-29 loss to Burlington), and this week we took a step back. So we’ve got to go back the drawing board and watch film and get better for next week.”
Horlick senior offensive tackle James Beardsley believes Horlick is not far away from turning the corner.
“People are not playing up to their potential right now with not finishing blocks and little things,” he said. “If we do those little things, we’ll really be able to come together and make plays.”
Bradford was led by Olson — who rushed for 66 yards on 14 carries — and Darden, who added 64 yards on 23 attempts. Olson also completed 8-of-16 passes for 85 yards.
“Coach drew up a pretty good game plan, and we executed pretty well,” Lampe said. “We practiced well all week and just executed.”