The Wauwatosa Spartans Football Club easily defeated the Milwaukee Venom, 27-0, Saturday at Hart Park in Ironman Football League action.
The Spartans were coming off a brutal three-game conference stretch that saw them go 3-0 and clinched the No. 1 seed in the American Conference playoffs. The Venom (1-6), who were coming off their first win of the year, was the Spartans' fourth straight victim.
With playoff positioning wrapped up already, the Spartans had the luxury of resting some starters who had been battling injuries. But with more than capable reserves chomping at the bit to play, the team didn't expect any drop-off.
The first half was quick and uneventful as both teams almost exclusively ran the football - keeping the clock running. The Spartans gouged the Venom defense on its three offensive drives, but in the end had only a punt and two fumbles to show for the effort as the game was scoreless at halftime.
'There was a little panic in our halftime huddle, but I think our team leaders did a good job of reminding guys that even though the scoreboard didn't reflect it, we were essentially dominating the game,' Spartans head coach Brandy Spoerl said. 'We kept shooting ourselves in the foot on offense in the first half, but we were playing conservatively and mainly running the football.'
In the third quarter, the Spartans were able to open up a comfortable lead with a balance of big plays on offense, defense and special teams.
The defense started things out when linebacker Eric Zilisch recovered a Venom fumble and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
The extra point was blocked for a 6-0 lead.
Shortly thereafter, the Spartans offense finally broke its drought when quarterback Tony Henner threw a 20-yard strike over the middle to tight end Lee Phillips for a score, opening up a 13-0 lead.
The Spartans' special teams then contributed, when linebacker Royal Ramseur blocked a Venom punt, recovered the kick, and ran 15 yards for a score, making it 20-0.
Finally, early in the fourth quarter, Henner connected with wide receiver Raymon Porchia for a 15-yard score and a 27-0 lead. From there, the Spartans were content to run out the clock in the fourth quarter and head to the locker room with the victory.
With a heavy emphasis on the run, the Spartans' offense grounded out an impressive 150 yards rushing.
Timmy Beuth, normally the team's starting tight end, moved to halfback for this game, and was very effective, carrying 18 times for 140 yards.
Henner was 11-for-14 for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Porchia grabbed four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.
And Phillips hauled in two catches for 60 yards and a score.
'With only one more game before playoffs, we're going to use this opportunity to work out some kinks on offense and maybe try a couple new things on defense,' Spoerl said. 'The goal is to not enter the playoffs flat.'
The Spartans improved to 7-2 overall, 6-2 in IFL play. In the regular season finale on Saturday at Hart Park, Wauwatosa hosts the Greendale Panthers (3-5) at 3 p.m.
The Spartans also welcome the Wauwatosa Special Olympians to Hart Park as its charitable partner for this game. Local athletes will volunteer on the Spartans' sidelines, and a contingent will be in attendance cheering the Spartans on.