Freeman, Crooks shine at Shrine game

Future Badgers hook up early and often

MENASHA, Wis.—Antonio Freeman felt that it would be a matter of time before he broke through. What he really needed was to look across the line of scrimmage and not see No. 44.

"I was really happy to see him when he lined up on the right side and I knew we were going to the left," Freeman said. "I knew something was going to happen."

Freeman was peering over at the North All-Stars formation looking for Andy Crooks, who, along with Freeman and five other participants in the annual Wisconsin Football Coaches Association/Shrine All-Star game, will join the Wisconsin football team this fall.

Freeman was watching, because Crooks had had his number all evening, hemming in the Wauwatosa West star on play after play.

But as Freeman knew, it would be awfully difficult for Crooks to catch him this time. Freeman's ensuing 52-yard run around left end set up a one-yard touchdown run from Mayville running back Nicholas Bloch, which gave the South squad its eventual winning margin, 20-12, after the trailing 12-0 in the first quarter.

"I knew it was just a matter of time for us to get outside," Freeman said. "That is what we had been working on during the whole week was getting outside. We finally got one." "He's got some wheels," Crooks said. "He's a quick guy. It's a good thing he's on our team." Freeman very nearly made a game-breaking play in the first quarter, but could not evade Crooks. Freeman broke free on a kick return and appeared to have plenty of room to run, but Crooks took a good angle and tackled Freeman along the sidelines, holding Freeman to a still-impressive 38-yard return.

Later in the first half, Freeman could not handle a pitch on a toss play to the right. He picked up the loose ball but was immediately swarmed under by Crooks four yards behind the line of scrimmage.

In the third quarter, Freeman tried the left side but Crooks quickly met him in the backfield. Freeman tried to break free but Crooks was relentless, finally taking Freeman down for a 19-yard loss. "I thought I could get away from him but that guy is tough, man," Freeman said. "He caught on to that jersey and he held on until the other guys came. That's how you do it." Freeman did get the better of Crooks on a fourth-and-two play in the first half though. Crooks hit Freeman one yard short of the first down, but Freeman picked up the extra yard on his second effort.

Still, Freeman barely got his lightning quick feet moving aside from his fourth-quarter scamper. On his eight additional carries he accumulated minus four yards.

Crooks finished with 10 tackles, including three for loss. He also had one quarterback hurry and returned a blocked 27-yard field goal attempt to the South 39-yard line.

In the end, though, it was Freeman's big play that proved decisive.

"It was nice," Freeman said. "All friendly. It was fun out there today."

Game notes

Arrowhead alum and incoming Badger freshman Nick Hayden also had a big game. Hayden tallied eight tackles and three tackles for loss as a defensive tackle. He also put the South on the board with a five-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Following the game, Kraig Urbik, who played left tackle for the North squad, said that he will room with Waukesha Catholic Memorial linebacker Ben Landgraf this fall. "I think he's walking on," Urbik said of Landgraf. "I'm pretty sure he is." Landgraf's interception set up Freeman's 52-yard scamper.

Freeman said that he plans to move to Madison Monday to take part in summer workouts. He has been doing the Badger football workout program while living in Milwaukee and taking part in numerous track competitions. He said his best performance in the 100 meters this summer is a 10.38. "I think I have a little more left," he added.

Former Madison Memorial star Jack Ikegwuonu caught two passes for 28 yards.

Green Bay Notre Dame's Joe Walker made one of the game's biggest hits while covering a punt. But he also had two short kick returns and was called for a costly false start penalty.

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