Germantown in position to claim share of North Shore Conference football title
Enter final game in a three-way tie
Germantown - The Germantown football team hosted Nicolet on Friday in what many would consider a trap game. With a road game at archrival Homestead looming this Friday with a chance at a share of the conference title on the line, the Warhawks made sure not to look past a struggling opponent.
Despite a strong defensive effort from Nicolet, the trap was not sprung on Germantown and the Warhawks defeated the Knights, 28-7, on homecoming night. The win, coupled with Homestead's loss to Whitefish Bay the same evening, means Germantown (5-1 in league and 6-1 overall) joins those teams with just one loss at the top of the North Shore standings with just one game to go.
"It's been a tough week and a challenge to not look ahead," Germantown head coach Jake Davis said. "Then of course it's homecoming week, and that's always a challenging week in itself.
"We knew Nicolet (2-5) was going to come and play hard, and we couldn't take anyone lightly."
And because of that, they have the opportunity for a share of their first North Shore Conference title since 2002, as they will now visit Davis' alma mater Homestead at 7 p.m. Thursday. After a decade of frustration, the Warhawks have now beaten the Highlanders twice in a row, once in a 2010 WIAA state playoff game and the second in a stunning rout at the end of the 2011 regular season.
Homestead will be fired up
Davis knows that his old coach Dave Keel will have his players more than motivated for this one, because the winner of this game will likely share the league title with Bay (5-1, 6-1), which closes its regular season at Nicolet (2-5) on Friday, while the loser will have to settle for third and ask "What if?"
Homestead has won or shared the league title every year since 2001.
"We want a piece of that championship and knowing that Homestead lost," said Davis. "... I'm sure they aren't taking that well so they will be getting ready to go."
Early on in the Nicolet contest, the Warhawks certainly seemed willing to take risks, going for it on fourth down and two on the first drive of the game. After an incomplete pass and two mildly successful runs, the Nicolet defense was able to stop Germantown and force the early turnover on downs. On two different occasions in the first quarter, Germantown went for it on fourth down and short, with the Nicolet defense stopping them both times.
Special teams come up big
Unfortunately for the Knights, the offense couldn't move the ball, and the next big play would belong to the Germantown special teams. Germantown blocked the Nicolet punt and set up field position for the offense at the Nicolet 30-yard line.
Sophomore Dwayne Lawhorn found junior Nick Holcomb in the flat for a touchdown shortly thereafter. The 13-yard score was the culmination of a three play, 30-yard drive to give Germantown a 7-0 lead with 6:42 to play in the first quarter.
The special teams got to another punt to start the second quarter, partially blocking a kick to again set up the Warhawks offense in Nicolet territory, this time at the 32. Nicolet's defense would cause a three and out on that drive, with Germantown electing to punt as opposed to going for it on fourth down.
Pinned back inside the 20-yard line, the Nicolet offense could not fight the ball forward and punted yet again - into the hands of Germantown. The third Germantown blocked punt of the game was returned 10 yards for a touchdown by Cody Slaasted, a score that put the Warhawks up 14-0.
In the second quarter, Davis turned in a classy maneuver, as senior reserve quarterback Mason Yahr was sent in to relieve Lawhorn and got a touch of glory himself throwing a 20-yard TD pass to Jason Townsend.
"He's a senior (co-) captain and a good program guy," Davis said of Yahr. "He earned a shot at running the show and deserved this opportunity." Senior running back Tyler Baran closed out the scoring with a four-yard run in the third quarter.
Knights coach David Quam knew his players were facing an uphill battle going in.
"I'm proud of our kids," Quam said. "Germantown is really an elite team in the state and I feel like our kids, particularly our defense, really played well."
Germantown now prepares for battle with Homestead and a return once again to the WIAA state playoffs. Davis spoke about wanting to grab a piece of the conference title and about how games like the Nicolet win show just how much of an accomplishment a North Shore Conference title is.
"I put it on the kids' backs to try to get better this week and try to teach them that we can't take weeks off," Davis said. "We have to work to get better no matter what, Nicolet can come out any night and beat you, that's what it's like in the North Shore."
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