Madison West senior quarterback Alex Brown collected a week’s worth of motivation and brought it to Mansfield Stadium on Friday.
He used that motivation to engineer a touchdown drive on the Regents’ first possession and Madison West never looked back as it defeated Mukwonago 22-7 in a WIAA Division 1 first-round playoff game.
The victory was the Regents’ first in the playoffs since 1981.
“All week long that is all we heard about,” Brown said. “We heard how it had been 31 years and that just kept motivating me.”
It also motivated Brown’s teammates.
“It was hard not to talk about it this week,” Regents coach Greg Valaskey said. “We tried to treat this game like just another Friday night, but everybody was talking about it.”
Valaskey said once the game started the talk stopped and his players focused on the playing field, and it showed.
Offensively, Brown capped West’s first drive with a 29-yard touchdown run and then found junior receiver Christian Graf on touchdown tosses of 13 and 24 yards to give the Regents a 19-0 halftime lead.
Defensively, the Regents (7-2) forced six turnovers and didn’t allow the Indians (5-4) to score until late in the fourth quarter.
The turnovers came via three forced fumbles, two interceptions and the recovery of a muffed punt and led to 10 points.
Senior defensive lineman Jaden Lechelt recovered two fumbles for the Regents, while senior linebacker Nick Annin had two interceptions.
“Our whole team has been playing together for a long time and we all came through this program together,” Annin said. “All week long we had a good focus and we knew that we would have to be ready because we knew that this game would be a challenge.”
Brown admitted the opening-drive touchdown took some pressure off.
“That was an important drive and you really can’t start much better than that,” Brown said. “From there, our defense just played aggressive.”
The Regents’ defense stuck out for Mukwonago coach Clay Iverson, but it was the play of Brown that really was the highlight.
“West’s defense was good and they tackled well and took away what we do best,” Iverson said.
“I give them a lot of credit, but Brown is a real challenge to defend against because he can run and throw the ball.”
Brown’s dual-threat ability is important to the Regents, but Valaskey focused on another area.
“He has really matured so much and what’s he’s able to do is just incredible,” Valaskey said. “But where he has really flourished is as a leader, and the rest of the team looks to him and rallies around him.”
Brown deflected the credit.
“Our defense played amazing and Christian ran some great routes and got open for the touchdowns,” Brown said. “This was a big team win and it’s just amazing … 31 years is a heck of a long time.”
Mukwonago 0 0 0 7 — 7
Madison West 7 12 3 0 — 22
Madison West — Brown 29 run (Moralles kick)
Madison West — Graf 13 pass from Brown (kick failed)
Madison West — Graf 25 pass from Brown (pass failed)
Madison West — FG 25 Moralles
Mukwonago — King 11 pass from Nixon (Timmers kick)
First downs — Mu 10, MW 12. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — Mu 44-106, MW 39-129. Passing yards — Mu 58, MW 168. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — Mu 4-16-2, MW 13-27-1. Fumbles-lost — Mu 6-4, MW 2-1. Penalties-yards — Mu 7-75, MW 6-45.
Rushing: Mu — Nixon 18-85; MW — Brown 12-39.
Passing: Mu — Nixon 4-11-2, 58; MW — Brown 13-27-1, 168.
Receiving: Mu — King 2-34; MW — Graf 6-75.