First-year Germantown head coach Jake Davis knows very well the slim odds of winning a North Shore Conference title after an early season loss. Davis played for Homestead back in the late nineties and contributed firsthand to the Highlanders stranglehold on the conference.
After dropping a heartbreaker to Cedarburg (4-1, 3-0), 31-28 Friday night, Davis and the Warhawks (3-2, 1-2) are now looking at almost impossible conference championship odds.
“Yeah it’s going to be tough,” Davis said. “We overcome, and that’s what we’ve got to continue to do.
“We just have to go after it and get back to it Monday.”
Bulldogs senior Jason Seeke knocked through a career-long 43-yard field goal with 7:20 left in the game to separate the two rivals for the last time and hold off Germantown's second half comeback.
“It was exciting,” Seeke said. “It was the longest field goal I’ve ever made so it was great. To keep this streak going is great and a conference championship is what we are looking for but you have to work hard for it.”
Things started well at home for Germantown when senior quarterback Josh Mongan led the Warhawks on a three play, 85-yard opening drive. The drive was capped by a 65-yard touchdown pass from Mongan to senior Ben Holcomb, giving Germantown a 7-0 lead with 10:41 left in the first quarter.
The teams exchanged punts before Cedarburg got on the board. Senior Joey LePak put the Bulldogs air attack in motion, passing for 77 yards in three plays, finished off by a touchdown pass to junior Matt Johnson.
In the second quarter, the teams provided more scoring blows including another passing touchdown from Mongan and two more from LePak, making a total of five combined first-half touchdown passes and three of more than 20 yards. Mongan finished the game with 160 yards, and LePak totaled 125 passing yards to go along with the touchdowns.
Mongan shares the same outlook as his head coach when it comes to what the team needs to work on and what can still be accomplished this season.
“It’s our second close one that we haven’t gotten,” Mongan said. “We just have to learn to finish and to play Germantown football for four quarters instead of two quarters.
“We had probably double digits penalties tonight, which will kill you every time.”
The second half brought more scoring, but this time the attention belonged to the running backs. Sophomore Hudson Walton ripped a 47-yard run as part of an 87-yard, eight play Bulldogs scoring drive to start the second half. Senior Kane Kaiman punched in a one-yard run to put Cedarburg ahead by two touchdowns with 8:17 left in the third quarter.
Germantown refused to give up, and less than four minutes later, it was senior Alec Richmond breaking off a 42-yard touchdown run for the Warhawks to pull back within a touchdown. When the defense forced a Cedarburg three-and-out, it was Richmond again scoring a six-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 28 with 11:56 remaining.
Richmond now has 10 touchdowns and is closing in on 600 yards rushing after finishing the night with 140 yards on 19 carries.
The rushing game led a comeback that gives Germantown reason to be optimistic moving forward to next week at Milwaukee Lutheran.
“We’ve got four games left and have to win three,” Mongan said. “There is no doubt in my mind we can get that done.”
For the Bulldogs, next week marks a showdown with Homestead in a rematch of a three-point loss for Cedarburg that determined the conference champion last year.
“I knew tonight was going to be a really tough game,” Cedarburg coach Brian Leair said. “I think this team is as talented as any team in the conference and we have several good teams.
“That’s why you have to focus on them one at a time because they are all very talented and very well coached.”