If one could write a Russian-length novel about the weighty rivalry between the Germantown and Homestead football teams (and one could), then the tome about the matchups between the Warhawks and Cedarburg would provide for only a slightly less achy back if one were to carry it around in their pack.
The rivalry only started heating up in 1998 as Germantown rallied for a 26-21 victory which helped clinch a North Shore title for the Warhawks. And when Cedarburg started up with its version of the run-oriented "double-wing" offense shortly thereafter, things would just get more and more interesting.
2002: Germantown 18, Cedarburg 15
How much does this game linger in the memory? Years after it, Bulldogs quarterback Joe Patek, who went on to have a fine career at UW-Oshkosh, still revealed tremendous frustration about how it ended when asked about it in an e-mail.
And who could blame Patek?
The Warhawks, behind the gritty play of quarterback David Pietrowiak, who ran 63 yards for one score and then passed 39 yards to Willie Albiero for another, had gone ahead, 18-15, late in the fourth quarter.
But Patek would not let Cedarburg say die. With just seconds remaining, he launched a perfect strike deep down the middle of the field, toward a receiver who had a step on defensive back Jeff Treslley.
The receiver grabbed it perfectly in stride and with an enormous crowd screaming both its joy and dismay in his ears, seemed to be headed toward a miraculous game-winning touchdown.
But Treslley, who would quarterback the Warhawks to their second WIAA state championship the following season, did not give on the play. What he did in the next few moments goes down as one of the greatest moments in Germantown football history.
At about the Germantown 10-yard line, he got close enough to the receiver and with a deftly-timed punch of his right hand, he knocked the ball out of the Bulldog player's hands. He hit it so hard that the ball skidded into and then out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a game-saving touchback for Germantown.
"I had to do something," said Treslley afterwards, knowing full well he was either going to be the hero or the goat on the play.
The victory pushed the North Shore into a three-way tie for the title between Germantown, Cedarburg and Homestead in a season that veteran gridiron watchers call maybe the best in the league's history.
Germantown would go on to beat the Bulldogs on the road again, 30-16, in a WIAA second-round playoff game.
1998: Germantown 26, Cedarburg 21
Again, a huge source of frustration for the Bulldogs. They had the lead early in the fourth quarter and had Germantown on the verge of punting after a holding penalty resulted in a third and 20 situation.
The Warhawks had had difficulty all night stopping the double-wing, so to punt the ball back to the Bulldogs probably meant defeat as Cedarburg would have likely ground out the rest of the clock.
But quarterback Ben Croatt would not let that happen. On successive throws, he hit ends David Holzbauer and Eric Schaefer with 13-yard passes to earn a precious first down.
Then it was Germantown's turn to grind the clock as the Warhawks worked their way down the field, eventually leading to a go-ahead run for score by all-state back Chermond Thomas.
The Warhawks weren't out of the woods just yet as the Bulldogs pounded their way down the field and were inside the 20 before a final pass was batted away and the victory preserved.
The win was a major catalyst for unbeaten Germantown's run to its first WIAA state championship.
2001: Cedarburg 23, Germantown 22
With the guts of the eventual 2003 state champions leading the way, the youthful Warhawks built a surprising 22-8 lead going into the fourth quarter of this WIAA playoff game at Germantown.
But the Warhawks couldn't quite hold as the Bulldogs got an 11-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion run out of the school's all-time rushing leader Richie Grows to make it 22-16.
And when Germantown couldn't move the ball, the Bulldogs got it back with just a short time remaining. Patek (him again), led Cedarburg down the field, but just inside the Warhawks 20, Cedarburg was facing a fourth and long.
No matter, Patek called his own number on the option and got the necessary yardage around the right side.
A short time later, Grows rumbled in from 9 yards out and Patek's extra point provided the game-winning margin.
2003: Germantown 14, Cedarburg 6
If the Warhawks were going to win their second state title, they were going to have to go through the Bulldogs - again.
Earlier in the season, the Warhawks had hammered Cedarburg, 42-12, but by the time this playoff game at Germantown rolled around, the Bulldogs were a much better team, aching for revenge.
They struck first blood on a 77-yard Eric Treske to Joe Reichhart pass, but before the first quarter ended, Germantown would have the lead for good on a 3-yard run by Albiero.
Then early in the second quarter, Treslley threw probably his best pass of the playoff sequence, a deep out to James Stewart who collected it and rambled 50 yards for the score and a 14-6 lead.
Shortly thereafter, the Warhawks suffered a devastating blow, as senior wide receiver and safety Kevin Mannion would be knocked out of the game and the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury.
However, Germantown gathered itself emotionally and held off one Bulldog incursion after another (Cedarburg would have a big advantage in the yardage department). The Warhawks defense, the eventual key to this state championship, forced four turnovers.
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