A penny for Whitefish Bay football coach Jim Tietjen's thoughts as Germantown was sitting on his team's three-yard line with 2.2 seconds to go and his exhausted defense desperately clinging to a 21-17 lead?
"As a defensive coach, I'm just thinking of the next play in front of us," he said. "That it's the most important one of the game. I try to get them settled in and in the right positions."
And his thoughts after junior linebacker Jeremiah Holt tomahawked the ball away from Warhawks receiver Louis Tuszynski in the middle of the end zone, sending the rest of the Bay team racing out onto the Lubar Stadium Field Friday night in pure joy?
"...Our kid made the hit and the scoreboard tells the story."
And that's how the North Shore Conference season got underway on a muddy, windless night as the Bay defense lost the battle to Germantown (over 430 yards allowed) but won the war.
It also put the Blue Dukes (1-0 in NSC play and 2-1 overall) in an improved frame of mind after their discouraging loss to Slinger last week.
"Our basic philosophy is to get at least four wins in conference and make the state playoffs," said Tietjen. "It's tough doing that in this league. We're just so young (the defense starts nine underclassmen). They're just learning how to be football players now."
"A couple of times, we had them on fourth down and we let them off the hook."
Including once on the heart-shaking 13-play final drive of the Warhawks that began on the Germantown 17 with just 1:50 to play and with the visitors possessing just two timeouts.
Germantown quarterback Josh Mongan (15 of 24 for 197 yards and eight carries for 83 yards and a TD), brought the ball down and ran for 10 yards to convert on the initial sequence and then later on the series hit Tuszynski (six catches for 84 yards) with two first-down passes.
But the big play came with just 11.9 seconds left as Mongan found Ben Holcomb for 29 yards and a first down on the Bay three. Germantown was out of timeouts and had to race down the field. The Warhawks got lined up at 5.7 seconds to go, and Mongan got the spike down.
Bay called a timeout and set up its final defensive stance.
"We had an idea that that they were going to try and go over the middle," said Tietjen, "and we were also looking out for the quarterback sneak, because the kid (Mongan) is a pretty good athlete and they were starting to read what we were trying to do and were taking advantage of it."
But it was Bay that took advantage of things and got the final stop.
"I was very confident in our athletes and the situation that we were in," said Germantown coach Jake Davis of the final sequence. "We learned something today. We played a good team tonight but we just didn't finish enough things."
"Regardless, I was proud of the boys and how they fought back and put us in a position to win."
Davis did have reason to be proud.
After Germantown took the initial lead on a 32-yard Adam Mucha field goal, the Blue Dukes took control of the line of scrimmage for a time, marching 71 yards in 13 plays as Rashadeem Gray (117 yards on 19 carries) went the final three yards for the go-ahead score on the second-to-last play of the first quarter.
Then shortly after that, the Blue Dukes were forced to punt, but sophomore Colin Downing's punt bounced off a Germantown return man, and Bay recovered on the Warhawks 39. Five plays later, Julian Posey ground it in from two yards out to make it 14-3.
But Germantown fought back just before the half, as senior back Alec Richmond (137 yards on 29 carries) went around end for the final two yards to cap off a 12-play, 75-yard drive that closed the gap to 14-10 going into the break.
The Warhawks built on that momentum on the third sequence of the third quarter, as the Warhawks defense stripped Bay fullback Deontaye Brown of the ball at the Blue Dukes 44. A play later, Mongan made a nice three-cut run out of the middle of the field and Germantown had its only lead of the night at 17-14.
Germantown had a chance to put the squeeze on the Blue Dukes two sequences later, taking over after a short punt at the Bay 41.
But a huge sack of Mongan by Bay defensive lineman Kelly Jackson and a holding penalty that wiped out a Germantown TD pass stalled the effort.
It was then that Blue Dukes sophomore running back Turner DeMuth took a little off-tackle play, found a seam and roared 75 yards up the sideline for the go-ahead score with just 15 seconds left in the third.
"He's something, isn't he?" said Tietjen, "and he was playing some two-way too (at defensive back). A little DeMuth, how about that?" Turner's big brother Garrett DeMuth was an all-state baseball player and high-level lineman for the Blue Dukes last year.
Davis was not surprised that the game was as exhausting as it was.
"This has become quite a rivalry the last few years, and they've come out ahead the last few times," he said. "It was not our best ball, but it was a good match-up."
Tietjen couldn't say enough about his "bend but not break" defense.
"We just concentrated on trying to keeping everything we could in front of us," he said. "Try to live to fight another day."
Jackson, Quentin Dismukes, John Platzer and Bobby Linneman were praised out of the line corps as were Darien Walker, Mike Letizia and Brown, who was pulling double-duty as one player after another came out of the game suffering from cramps on the steamy evening.
A relatively clean night of penalties (just three flags) also made it easier on Tietjen and the team -- a trend he would like to see continue.
"We try to be a clean team," he said. "The administration expects that. It's that kind of school (laughs)."
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