LITCHFIELD — Litchfield’s offensive attack has gotten loads of attention throughout the season. And deservedly so.
The top-seeded Dragons entered Friday’s Section 2AAA title game against No. 2 Rockford with the fourth-best offense in Class AAA at 39 points per game.
So it was no surprise that Litchfield’s offensive brilliance was on complete display during a 55-14 victory over the Rockets from Litchfield High School.
The Dragons racked up nearly 600 total yards and surpassed the 50-point mark for the third time this season. As impressive as the offense was, Litchfield’s defense deserves equal billing in the program’s first section championship since 2006.
The hosts forced four turnovers in the first half, three resulting in touchdowns.
Just before halftime, Dragons junior defensive back Logan King intercepted Rockets junior Sam Zilmer after snatching the ball out of the hands of a Rockford receiver. In just under a minute, Litchfield drove the 57 yards down the field and opened up a 35-7 lead after senior quarterback Ben Alsleben found King on a 4-yard touchdown reception with 11.1 seconds left in the first half.
Each of Rockford’s first three possessions ended with turnovers. Senior defensive back Tyson Michels and junior defensive back Tanner Kohls also picked off Zilmer. Senior defensive lineman Mason St. Pierre recovered a fumble.
With four sacks, Litchfield’s defense held the Rockets to 194 yards.
Receiving the ball first, Litchfield completed a 10-play, 80-yard drive with Michels going for a 23-yard scoring grab 3:23 into the game. Later in the first quarter, Alsleben found senior wide receiver Bennett Lecher on a screen play for a 9-yard touchdown.
The Dragons jumped out to a 21-0 advantage when senior running back Drew Kotzer reached the end zone on a 8-yard rush.
Rockford got on the scoreboard on the ensuing possession when sophomore tight end Wes Overton made a pretty one-handed 18-yard TD catch to cut the deficit to 21-7. However, Litchfield responded after Lecher snagged the ball on an out pattern, eluded a defender and raced to a 41-yard touchdown reception.
In the second half, Alsleben produced the Dragons’ longest scoring play when he found junior wide receiver Ryan Schutz on a 66-yard catch. In his final game, Alsleben finished 25 of 38 passing for 403 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Also in their final games, Michels and Lecher each had nine catches. Michels had a team-best 137 receiving yards. Lecher had 124 receiving yards and added a 4-yard rushing touchdown in the second half.
Kotzer led all rushers 81 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Junior linebackers Kole Bartlett and Wyatt Larson paced the Dragons with nine and seven tackles, respectively.