After watching his team amass just 83 yards and three first downs in the first half of Friday night’s rivalry showdown with West Allis Hale, West Allis Central coach Dax Rodriguez knew something had to change.
That something came in the form of senior Brian Hoppe, who rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in the second half.
It turned what was a 7-6 Huskies lead at halftime in a 32-7 runaway Greater Metro Conference victory for Central to reclaim the Cwik’s-Sob’s Trophy at the West Allis Athletic Complex.
“He’s been amazing the last five weeks, but against (Catholic) Memorial (in the first game of the season, we didn’t give him the ball once,” said Rodriguez on getting things started strong in the second half. “That’s eight touchdowns in five games now for him.”
On senior night, Hoppe, who also splits out as a receiver and handled the punting duties in this game, wanted nothing more than to have a hand in knocking off the Bulldogs’ crosstown rival.
“For us seniors to take them down and go 2-2 against them in our four years at Central is a great feeling, means a lot,” said Hoppe.
Hoppe didn't have a touch in the first half but provided a spark that got the Bulldogs (2-2 Great Metro, 3-3 overall) rolling in the second half. It doesn’t hurt to have senior running back Troy Brown running away from people for an 80-yard run to get Central the lead, either.
“He’s one of the fastest kids in the school,” said Rodriguez on Brown, who also broke a 60-yard scoring sprint on the last play of the first quarter and had 170 yards for the game. “He’s shifty. When you’re 5-foot-5, you get behind those big hosses and it’s hard for the defense to see you.”
The second score not only turned things around on the scoreboard; it lifted the spirits of the Central sideline after an 11-play drive that ate up 6 minutes, 44 seconds yielded no points.
“We felt we outplayed them in the first half, but the scoreboard didn’t show it,” Rodriguez said. “It has something that’s happened to us all year. We wanted to make sure we established the fact we weren’t going to go away.”
While the offense turned the corner for Central, the Bulldogs’ defense held Hale (0-4, 1-5) to three consecutive three-and-outs in the second half and 72 total yards of offense in the final two frames, as well.
“It’s a tough offense to stop because you have to be disciplined,” Rodriguez said. “The one touchdown they had, we weren’t disciplined. We knew if we did our jobs, it would be hard to run on us.”
Added Central senior linebacker Eric Vis: “We worked hard all week. They scored 42 points on us last year, and our goal was to shut them out, but they were able to get the one score. That was the best game we’ve played on year on defense.”
For Hale, the opportunities were there in the second half, but the Huskies' seven penalties for 81 yards seemed to come at the most inopportune times.
Safety Garet Morgenroth had two interceptions that counted but had two more negated by penalties. Both times, the Bulldogs seized the second chance and scored.
“Every time we made a play there seemed to be a flag, especially in the second half,” Hale coach Sean Hegarty said. “They played a great game in the second half. We didn’t play very well.”
Central starts the toughest part of its schedule next week against the top of the GMC in Brookfield Central, Sussex Hamilton and Marquette.
Hale host Brookfield East next week still in search of its first GMC win of the season.