Lodi Wins 2nd Division 4 State Championship

David Puls went out on top.

In his last game as head coach of the Lodi football team, the Blue Devils sent him into retirement with a WIAA Division 4 state championship, after a 38-14 win over Luxemburg-Casco on Thursday at Camp Randall in Madison.

“Man, this is special,” said Puls, addressing fans that packed the Lodi High School gymnasium to welcome the team back from Madison that night. “It feels like a dream I don’t want to wake up from.”

The Blue Devils wrapped up an undefeated storybook season with the victory, as they finished the 2023 campaign with a 15-0 record. The offense was unstoppable in Thursday’s win.

The first play from scrimmage was a play-action 67-yard scoring strike from Mason Lane to Aiden Groskopf. And on their first offensive play of the second half, the Lodi football team got a 74-yard touchdown run by Kylar Clemens.

Mason Lane, dubbed “Mr. Lodi” by his teammates, had a big first half, throwing for that deep touchdown to Groskopf on a rollout and then grabbing an interception on defense. He also scored on a 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, following a key fourth-and-2 run for a conversion by Clemens, and then threw touchdown passes to Gavin Sargeant — a 19-yarder — and Brady Puls, who rambled 59 yards on a screen pass with 2:27 left in the first half, to spearhead the Blue Devils’ offensive explosion.

Lane threw for 220 yards and three scores, while rushing for 102 yards. Kylar Clemens paced Lodi in rushing, piling up 146 yards on the ground, as he also led the team in tackles with 10. Sargeant finished with a team-high six catches for 74 yards.

Luxemburg-Casco’s passing game started to click in the second quarter, leading to touchdown runs of 2 and 58 yards by Andrew Klass, but the Spartans couldn’t keep up with the Blue Devils. And Josh Klann leaped to intercept a pass to snuff out a Spartans drive late in the first half.

Kylar Clemens ripped off that long touchdown run, and Jacobo Castillo Rosales booted 23-yard field goal for good measure to give Lodi its first state championship since 2017.

Klann, a defensive end and offensive lineman, was asked how the Blue Devils did it.

“Staying together, playing as a team,” responded Klann. “We just got the job done.”

A big group of seniors led the way.

“Just having been best friends, staying together, we’ve been working towards a common goal,” said KIann.

Henry Koeppen, a senior offensive and defensive lineman, had a similar explanation, but he also credited one player for bringing Lodi to the promised land.

“Mason Lane. Mr. Lodi,” said Koeppen, “and our brotherhood.”

For Brady Puls, the win was extra special, considering it was his dad’s swan song. Scoring a touchdown in the game was the cherry on top.

“I was just hoping to get one,” said Brady Puls, a running back and linebacker for the Blue Devils. “I was just running behind my linemen.”

Like Koeppen and Klann, Brady Puls is a senior, and he talked about how close this group of seniors is.

“We’re brothers,” said Puls. “We’ve been best friends since the fourth grade, and we had a common goal.”

Aiden Groskopf had a big smile on his face when asked to put into words his reaction to the victory.

“It feels amazing,” said Groskopf. “It’s a dream come true.”

That first touchdown he scored was big.

“It was great. It really set the tone for the game,” said Groskopf.

Coach Puls agreed.

“Scoring first was huge. If you’re the team that’s trying just to get back in it, you get flustered,” said coach Puls.

Prior the reception at Lodi High School, Puls and his son had a moment in the lockerroom.

“Brody and I saw each other, and we were talking about how emotional it was,” said coach Puls. “And he said, ‘I thought I’d be bawling my eyes out,’ and I thought I’d be the same. But he said there was nothing to cry about. We were just happy. And it was emotional, but we weren’t crying.”