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Leading Off


Elisha Cooper painted images and wrote about a trio of football games last weekend


Waunakee vs. Waukesha West


• With the temperature around 18¬∫ last Friday night, the Waunakee High Warriors battled the Waukesha West Wolverines in a Division 2 state semifinal game. The cheerleaders, in earmuffs, looked miserable, but the cold didn't bother Warriors quarterback Troy Laufenberg (21), who rushed for 210 yards and threw a touchdown with 21.3 seconds left to bring his team within one point, 21--20.

Everyone from the fans draped in blankets to the players huddled on the sidelines expected Laufenberg to keep the ball as Waunakee went for two. The Warriors instead ran a reverse, with senior wideout Alex Helt attempting a throw that was knocked down on the goal line. Laufenberg cried through his face mask as the Warriors walked off the field. The Waukesha players stuck around and hugged their girlfriends: They were going to Camp Randall for the state championship game.


Wisconsin vs. Nebraska


• Last Saturday afternoon the pregame buzz in Madison was mostly about pulled pork, cheddar brats, cheese curds and sausage. But after the 59--24 defeat of the Cornhuskers, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (25) had become the talk of the nation. The 6'1" junior running back needed just 25 carries to set a new FBS single-game rushing record, with 408 yards. The Badgers' line opened holes so wide that a fat man selling cheese curds could walk through them, allowing Gordon to average 16.3 yards per carry, score four touchdowns and not even play in the fourth quarter. As snow started to fall, the line kept playing, lumbering around the field and looking for things to flatten.


Packers vs. Eagles


• Lambeau Field sits in a neighborhood of small houses and gray woods, not far from the parking lot of a Cabela's Sporting Goods store, which may well be the source of the hunting gear some fans wear to the game. Clad in a blue-and-yellow throwback uniform, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) resembled a guy playing catch in a field with friends as he threw ball after ball to wideouts Randall Cobb (18) and Jordy Nelson in a 53--20 dismantling of the Eagles.

In the locker room after the game, the Packers whooped in the showers. They dressed slowly as reporters clustered around them. Rodgers grabbed a snack as he put on his jacket, and headed out into the Wisconsin night.


Elisha Cooper