Roethel is spectacular in Howards Grove victory

by Dave Boehler
Review Sports Editor

KAEDEN ROETHEL RUNS from would-be tacklers Friday in Howards Grove’s 33-0 home victory over Manitowoc Lutheran. He finished with 194 yards rushing on 22 carries. – Photo by Mark Schorer KAEDEN ROETHEL RUNS from would-be tacklers Friday in Howards Grove’s 33-0 home victory over Manitowoc Lutheran. He finished with 194 yards rushing on 22 carries. – Photo by Mark Schorer Kaeden Roethel knows how to make an entrance.

The Howards Grove junior football player made his varsity debut on offense Friday and finished with 194 yards rushing on 22 attempts to go with three touchdowns in a 33-0 season opening victory over visiting Manitowoc Lutheran.

“I wasn’t really expecting to have that big of a game, I was just hoping that I could do enough so our team could win,” Roethel said. “In the huddle, once I knew I was getting the ball for the first time, I was super nervous not to mess up. After the carry and I got tackled, all the nervousness went out.”

Kurt Theobald finished with eight tackles and Gavin Winter added six for the Tigers, who also got a 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Dalton Free for a 6-0 lead, but the night belonged to Roethel.

Last season, Roethel played varsity defense and had a teamhigh five interceptions to earn a spot on the all-Big East second team. But with then-senior Jack Peterson at running back, the only offense he played was on the junior varsity.

One would never know it watching Roethel score on a 20-yard touchdown run for a 12-0 lead in the second quarter. It was a stretch play designed to go outside, and Roethel confidently burst through the hole created by his linemen.

“Our blocking was great both from our offensive line and our perimeter blockers like our wide receivers,” Howards Grove coach Dave Schmid said. “And once he gets like a little piece of open field, that’s when he becomes so dangerous. That’s what gave him the confidence to start running like he knows he can.”

Roethel also dazzled the crowd with a 67-yard punt return for a 19-0 lead in the third quarter.

“I just had to beat one guy right away,” he said. “The rest of my team made some good blocks for me and there was a lane, so I took it and scored.”

After an 8-yard touchdown run from Gavin Winter, Roethel’s final score came on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter.

His longest rush of the game was 32 yards and he averaged 8.8 yards per carry.

“I think Kaedin is a very, very talented runner,” Schmid said. “I thought that he was a little tentative at first and that a lot of his yards, especially at the beginning of the game, came from great blocking from our offensive line. Again, it was his first varsity start. So as the game went on, he got more confidence. When he saw the holes, he would hit it and then turn on a little extra burst of speed that we knew we had from practice. But he was a little tentative using it in the first half. Then in the second half, he ran a lot more like I expected or I thought from seeing him in practice.”

In the second quarter of the scoreless game, Schmid even reminded Roethel that once he sees the crease, he needs to be confident in his reading ability and the size of the hole created by his line. The key then was to turn on the extra burst of speed.

“He looked at me and shook his head,” Schmid said. “That one stretch play he scored on, that was the one where he did exactly that. He turned on the juice right when he needed to. Otherwise he was kind of running the same speed the whole time. I don’t want to say I was the one who said anything or did anything, but he kind of just needed that reassurance that this is what he needed to do and what he knows he can do. Then he returned a punt for a touchdown. … It was fun to watch.”

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