Teamwork, trust lead to four GT players earning All-Suburban honors
Mongan, Tuszynski, Holcomb, Olson all make team
Trust took many forms for the Germantown football team this past fall as the Warhawks worked with a new coach (Jake Davis) for the first time in 42 years who was charged with making an imprint on a talented senior-heavy team that was used to the way retired legend Phil Datka did things.
The trust came in layers and was helped by talented and smart individuals who knew that the player only succeeded if the team did well, which it did as the Warhawks finished Davis' first campaign with a fine 7-3 record.
Those individuals were then rewarded by postseason success, as four senior Germantown players earned a spot on the 2011 NOW Newspapers All-Suburban team. They included quarterback Josh Mongan, receiver Louis Tuszynski, receiver/defensive back Ben Holcomb and linebacker Dan Olson.
Mongan said the team fully bought what Davis was selling them.
"He really made my job a lot easier because he trusted what we were doing on offense," said Mongan, "and having two receivers out there like Louis and Ben, it allowed him to be a lot more lenient in terms of the plays he was calling. We could pass a lot more than he probably thought we would do initially."
Davis knew what he was getting with the highly intelligent and motivated Mongan, who is also a three-year starter at point guard for the state's top-ranked boys basketball team and someone who is working toward earning an appointment to West Point.
"He's a coach on the field for us," said Davis. "He's very used to high-pressure situations in both football and basketball so nothing really fazes him. His mood and attitude dictated how far we went."
And as indicated, Mongan, who finished with 18 TD passes with just four interceptions, had good reason to trust in his receivers. Tuszynski literally caught everything that was thrown his way as his acrobatic leaps and sticky fingered ability recalled the great Greg Rogers, a 2006 All-Suburban choice at end for the Warhawks.
One catch in particular defined his campaign, as in an early season loss to Whitefish Bay, he went on a deep post route down the Warhawk sideline. He was well-blanketed by the Blue Duke's defender, but he leapt, and as he did so turned his back to the ground. Mongan's pass came to his left arm along the sideline and he pulled it in one-handed just as he hit the ground for a long gain that eventually led to a touchdown.
Everyone who saw the grab thought it was worthy of an ESPN highlight reel and it was one of many for Tuszynski who became Mongan's go-to man when Germantown needed a first down on a third and long situation (40 catches for 665 yards and seven TDs).
"My dad tells me that every ball that hits my hands should be caught," said Tuszynski sheepishly. "I just try to do my best to keep that in mind. I just work hard on my routes and catch the ball. That's the bottom line to me.
"And Josh and I have been close friends for years. It shows up on the field. Ben and I are close too, but even though we're on the same team we still try to outdo one another. See if we can do things just a little bit better (laughs)."
Davis said Tuszynski was one of the best he's ever seen.
"We looked at tape after tape," said Davis, "and he (Tuszynski) had at least spectacular catch each game. He has body control like you just don't see in other kids."
And when Tuszynski was covered or the Warhawks needed a "home run" ball, Mongan went looking for Holcomb, who is a freakishly-gifted 6-3, 200-pounder. A state placewinner in the 110 high hurdles in track and a frighteningly hard-hitting safety on defense, Holcomb just knew where the ball was on either offense or defense.
He had a back-breaking 23.5 yards per catch average on 31 grabs this fall.
He's contemplating offers from Illinois State and North Dakota and liked all the team success that was achieved this fall, especially the 27-0 beatdown of rival Homestead in the regular season closer that ended the Highlanders' 67-game North Shore Conference winning streak.
"We've all been waiting for something like that since our freshmen year," he said. "We'd had such great disappointments in the past against them, so it was great to end things this way. I just did my part. Help shut down their offense, run the wheel route and get open."
"He could pretty much do it all," added Davis. "Just a big, physical kid who could pretty much do it all. He's more like a linebacker than a safety with the way he hits. He just fills so fast that he surprises people with his speed."
Another person who was pleased with the Homestead win and who worked with Holcomb on the better-than-expected defense was Olson, who lifted his game to new levels this year in earning North Shore Defensive Player of the Year honors.
He ranged sideline-to-sideline, tipping balls, forcing fumbles and tackling everything that was within reach.
Olson felt that becoming more involved in the leadership of the team was the single-largest defining factor in improving his game this past fall.
"The more leadership I took on, the more involved I got, the more it forced me to become better," he said. "I felt I had to lead the team. I did it by reading the ball and reacting to it."
Which was something he had an unerring knack for, said Davis.
"He's a true linebacker," his coach said. "Just a great nose for the ball with a terrific ability to fill and hit people. Anything we asked him to do he did. He could read the pulling guard like nobody I've ever seen. Just great natural ability."
That resulted in an absurd 24 tackles for loss and was just part of a pattern of individual goals leading to team success for the Warhawks this fall.
"I had the final word," said Davis, "but I always relied on the kids for feedback. …They had a chance to say what they wanted and that helped the team."
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