Like a hot knife through butter
Spencer/Columbus has dominated opponents en route to a 4-0 start
By Paul Lecker
SPENCER — The Spencer/Columbus Catholic football team has exerted its dominance of the Cloverbelt Conference from Day 1, blasting four straight opponents on its way to a perfect start.
While running backs Hunter Luepke and Noah Zastrow and quarterback Calvin Lenz receive the lion’s share of the press, as they have combined for 14 rushing and four passing touchdowns this season, the success of the Rockets starts up front.
The offensive line, anchored by seniors Brett Loveland and Dakota Andreae and junior Max Johnson, has paved the way for a Rocket offense that has piled up 1,342 yard rushing and averaged 7.8 yards per carry over the first four games.
“I feel like our offensive line is continually giving (the running backs) five or six yards, and they make up the rest after that,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jason Gorst said. “I feel like we are getting great downfield blocking. Guys are taking pride in that, getting downfield and making a block 10, 15, 20 yards downfield, and we’re happy to see that.”
The Rockets’ defense has been equally impressive.
Spencer/Columbus has outscored its opponents 186-22 and has not allowed more than one touchdown in any game. Opponents are averaging just 88 yards per game against the Rockets.
“Tackling and blocking has been the key for us,” Rockets quarterback/cornerback Calvin Lenz said. “We’re taking pride in those two things, and everything else just falls into place.”
The Rockets also take pride in the fact that they have great team camaraderie.
A successful run to Level 3 of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs last season helped fuel the returning Rockets to contend for the Cloverbelt title as well as another deep postseason push.
“I have to say the bond with the guys (is the reason for the Rockets’ early success),” Lenz said. “We have 13 seniors out. We’ve been playing together, most of us, since third grade. We throw in a couple of underclassmen, Noah Zastrow, Max Johnson. We all get along super well, and we all have the same goal in mind.”
Spencer/Columbus got over the hurdle of beating Stanley-Boyd in Week 2, ending the Orioles’ 16-game conference winning streak with a dominating 36-8 rout on the road.
The Rockets did not let the success go to their heads, following up the big win with two more blowout victories. After playing Cadott this week, Spencer/Columbus will face another Cloverbelt title contender in Eau Claire Regis, which is 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference heading into this week’s game at Colby. Regis’ loss was 21-14 in the season-opener to Stanley-Boyd.
Spencer/Columbus will play Regis at Carson Park in Eau Claire on Sept. 26 at 1 p.m.
“It was a big win,” Gorst said of the victory over Stanley-Boyd. “The quality of team they are and to beat them the way we did, it gives you an idea of where you may be at.
“I give these guys all the credit in the world. They come back in every single day in practice and work hard. I think they are a very humble group. They push themselves. When they make mistakes, they hold themselves accountable.”