Athletes of the Week: Eau Claire Memorial Football

By  | 

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It’s like they can’t stop scoring. Averaging nearly 55 points per game the first 2 weeks of the season, the Eau Claire Memorial football team is leading the state in division one in scoring. The team is our Osseo Automotive Athlete of the Week. SportScene 13’s Neil Hebert reports.

Eau Claire Memorial's Calvin Tanner scores on a kick return Friday night against La Crosse Central.

When you think you have the Old Abes contained, think again. Memorial led La Crosse Central by 5 points at the half Friday night, and then went off for 3 touchdowns in the 3rd, followed by 2 more in the 4th.

Led by junior running back and Wisconsin Badger commit, Loyal Crawford, the rushing attack averages 8.5 yards per rush. Crawford is at the top of the division one leaderboard in rushing yards with 470.

“He’s an exceptional talent. I said that going into his freshman year,” 3rd year head coach of the Old Abes, Mike Sinz, said. “He gets better every game because he pushes himself all the time.”

But it’s not just Crawford getting the job done. The team’s 1,134 total yards lead the entire state, not just division one. When the run game has a lull, the Old Abes can hurt you in other aspects of their explosive offense; Memorial is 5th in division one in passing.

“It’s not a one-man show. Loyal is an incredible talent, but we feel like we can throw the ball if we have to,” Sinz said. “Last year, Bryson (Johnson) threw for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s a very capable passer. As the season goes on, we’re going to have to depend on the pass more here and there.”

“It opens up our capabilities so much more. It’s really nice,” Crawford said.

“With Loyal running the way he is and them stacking the box, it just reopens everything up,” Bryson Johnson, who’s in his 2nd year as the starting quarterback for Memorial, said. “Our receivers are running great routes. It’s been great.”

The experienced offensive line is one of the stronger aspects of the team.

“They’re amazing. Honestly, they’re the reason we had such a good game on Friday. I just want to thank them because they’re just awesome,” Crawford said of his offensive line. “I love those guys.”

“The whole team is pretty strong itself, but we’ve really put it together on the O-line this year because we have a lot of returners,” Nick Oberding, a senior offensive lineman, said. “It’s been a strength of our team this year.”

The Old Abes open an always tough Big Rivers Conference schedule at home against Rice Lake Friday night.