Last season’s heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame in the WIAA Division 3 state title game left a sour taste in the mouths of the Catholic Memorial players. Rarely do teams get a second chance to win a state title, but the Crusaders have that opportunity this season.
Catholic Memorial made a statement in its first game of the 2016 season, rolling past Milwaukee Riverside, 49-6, at Waukesha South High School. The game was called with 3:24 left in the first half because of lightning.
“It was just an overmatched deal on our part,” Memorial coach Bill Young said. “We should have a good team.”
Memorial scored a touchdown on each one of its seven offensive series, while registering 288 yards of total offense. The Crusaders defense was also just as dominant, not allowing a single first down, as Riverside finished with negative-5 yards of total offense.
Despite the blowout victory, the talk after the game was about Memorial senior running back Josh Karfonta, who left the game in the first quarter with an injury. Assisted off the field, Karfonta favored his left knee after getting tackled out-of-bounds following a 9-yard run.
Young said the team won’t find out the severity of Karfonta’s injury until Monday. Karfonta was Memorial’s leading rusher last season, recording 1,559 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns
“He’s a first-team All Conference running back,” Young said of Karfonta. “He’s one of our captains and just a great young man. We have to say our prayers for Josh. I’m just stunned right now. I’m shaking.”
From the opening kickoff, Memorial controlled the momentum. On the first play of the game, Karfonta rushed for a 48-yard touchdown just 15 seconds into the contest, giving Memorial a 7-0 lead following the extra point.
“We started off fast just like we wanted to,” Memorial senior linebacker and running back Jaylen Campbell said. “That’s how we love to play Memorial football – nice and fast.”
After a quick three and out by Riverside, Memorial tacked on, as Karfonta capped a nine-play, 49-yard touchdown drive, with a 9-yard run. Memorial led 13-0 after a failed PAT with 6:57 remaining in the first quarter.
Just over a minute later, Campbell tallied his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 24-yard run. Memorial led 21-0, after a successful two-point conversion.
Campbell scored another touchdown less than three minutes later after Memorial began the drive on Riverside’s 31-yard line. A 13-yard touchdown run by Joe Reinicke put Memorial up 35-0 with 48 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
With Riverside struggling in all areas of the game, it appeared the first quarter would come to a close with Memorial up by 35 points. However, Riverside kick returner Gerron Moss had other ideas.Moss took Memorial’s kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to put Riverside on the board.
The second quarter was the same story, as Riverside had no answer for Memorial. CMH’s Alex Cyskiewicz rushed for 1-yard touchdown in the opening minutes of the quarter before quarterback Ben Nimz connected with receiver Max Cooper for a 27-yard TD.
Karfonta carried the ball five times for 74 yards and two touchdowns, and Campbell ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Cyskiewicz added 38 yards, while Reinicke tallied 15 and Tony Wojnowski had five, as 199 of Memorial’s 288 yards came on the ground.
Wojnowski and Nimz split time at quarterback for Memorial. Wojnowski didn’t complete his lone pass attempt, and Nimz went 4-for-5 for 89 yards and a touchdown.
“Not as good as I would like,” Nimz said of his performance. “I had an incompletion. Guys up front did good and helped me get the ball off in time, but things could always go better.”