Like students taking their first big test of a new school year, the Litchfield football team could feel pretty good about having most of the answers Friday.
Powered by sophomore Lukas Kuehl’s 242-yard, three-touchdown performance, the Dragons cruised by a 32-8 win over Milaca.
“Lukas put up some big yards tonight,” Litchfield coach Jim Jackman said. “But you know, our offensive linemen, there’s I think, there’s some concerns with some new guys coming in. But those guys battled all night. Obviously, we’re going to still watch the film, but they continued to battle and they ran, moved their feet, and there wasn’t a lot of watching.”
The watching from a Litchfield fan perspective, however, was pretty good as the Dragons amassed more than 500 yards on offense, including a ground game that chewed up 335 yards.
Kuehl got the Dragons on the board first, scoring on a 9-yard run with just less than three minutes gone in the game.
Litchfield worked with a short field on that first scoring drive after senior linebacker Beau Weseloh intercepted a Milaca pass at 48-yard line. Logan King and Ryan Schutz connected on a long pass a couple plays later to move the Dragons quickly downfield, setting up Kuehl’s score.
Milaca looked like it would answer quickly, too, as it drove nearly the length of field before being stopped on downs at the Litchfield 10-yard line.
And the Dragons responded by mounting a 90-yard scoring drive, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Kuehl that gave them a 13-0 lead.
Senior Kole Bartlett got Litchfield’s next touchdown on a 3-yard run, and Kuehl closed out Litchfield’s first-half scoring in a big way with a 60-yard touchdown run with 3:10 to play in the half, giving the Dragons a 26-0 lead.
Litchfield finished its scoring with a 16-yard pass from King to Tanner Kohls, who went up over a Milaca defender to pull in the touchdown with 1:29 to go in the third quarter.
It was part of an efficient and effective performance from King, who was making his first varsity start at quarterback. He completed 11 of 13 passes for 158 yards. His favorite targets were Schutz, who had six catches for 124 yards, and Kohls, who caught five for 22 yards.
After getting their first touchdown on a turnover, the Dragons’ next three scores came after their defense stopped Milaca on downs, the first on the Litchfield 10, the next two on the 25.
The stops were the result of a kind of bend-but-don’t-break defensive effort from Litchfield, which allowed 310 yards, including 226 on the ground – but didn’t give up a score until late in the fourth quarter.
“Any time you play a team that runs a lot of option football … hopefully we’re going to find a way to make some plays and make some turnovers,” Jackman said. “They ran the ball really, really well, I thought, with their option game. We don’t see that all the time in the league that we’re in.
“There’s some things that we have to clean up line-wise,” Jackman added. “Tonight, I think our linemen needed to be a little bit better in some situations. Those are all first-game things that we just got to fix and get a little bit better.”
Litchfield plays its first Wright County Conference game at home against Holy Family Catholic at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10.