Warhawks, Hilltoppers set for Level 3 contest
Team needs to focus on physical Marquette squad
Germantown — Even as his career is winding down in these final happy days after 42 years at the helm, Germantown football coach Phil Datka is still finding that there's always something new around the corner.
Like his Warhawks' Division 1 level 3 playoff game against Greater Metro Conference and defending state champion Marquette (9-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday.
It's the first time a Datka-led squad has taken on the Hilltoppers.
"That's happened twice in these playoffs," said Datka with a chuckle, noting that the level 1 win over Sheboygan South on Oct. 26 was also a first-time event. "It's a neat thing to be able to bring the defending state champion to your home field.
"I've been wanting to take them on since (his days at) Frances Jordan. Now I finally get the chance (laughs)."
And though this is not the physically dominant Hilltoppers that rolled to an unbeaten state championship last fall and even though state coaching legend Dick Basham finally retired at the end of last year, nothing has changed in Marquette's intensity or demeanor.
Under new head coach and defensive coordinator Jeff Mazurczak, the Hilltoppers remain a defense-first, physical kind of bunch. Since losing their first two games of the year to powerhouses Wisconsin Lutheran and Franklin, Marquette has rolled to nine straight wins and in sweeping seven contests in the Greater Metro, they allowed only 24 points, recording four shutouts.
"They are huge," said Datka, referring to the likes of senior offensive lineman Ryan Rohlfing (6-7, 315); and senior defensive lineman Bret Koscielak (6-5, 285) and Mark Scarpinato (6-3, 265).
The offense is built around senior quarterback John Kopriva (6-6, 205), who has passed for more than 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. His top target is junior end Matt Misiewicz (6-3, 175), who has more than 35 catches and nine TD receptions on the season.
Datka said the key to success this week for the Warhawks will be to turn off the faucet of happiness that has been running all week since the upset win over rival Homestead and to open the spigot of reality for the task ahead.
"The kids have a right to feel good and confident about themselves," he said. "I'm just so doggone proud of them. They've got to be sick of hearing and reading about me, but they've worked so hard and accomplished so much.
"But we need to mentally re-fuel. Those first two playoff games happen so fast, that you need this week as a little breather to enjoy things a little," he said.
"We're going to have to find a way to match their muscle and keep this rolling, because I don't think anybody wants to quit just yet."
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