Perhaps first-year Greenfield coach Joe Koch had the best perspective on the disparity between Germantown and the Hustlin' Hawks on Friday, Aug. 22, in the season opener for both teams.
"We're like an amateur boxer who stepped up to try and fight Mike Tyson in his prime," said Koch, who is embarking in his fourth reclamation project, having previously turned around programs at Whitefish Bay Dominican, Oak Creek and Pius XI.
The way Germantown rolled to the 56-7 victory in Datka Stadium was very familiar to Koch; he's seen it from his teams in the past.
The Warhawks turned a 7-0 first-quarter lead into a 42-0 halftime cushion that invoked the WIAA's running clock mercy rule throughout the second half. Germantown needed just eight plays in the second quarter to put up those 35 points.
"You want to see guys not let down and play down a level," Germantown coach Jake Davis said. "Great teams will continue to play great no matter who they face. That's what I was looking for out of these guys."
In the first half, the Warhawks, who took advantage of some very fortuitous field position and an offensive line that just mowed under the smaller Greenfield defensive front, never had a possession that lasted more than four plays.
Junior running back Spencer Pethan, in his first extended varsity action, formed a potent one-two backfield punch with third-year starting quarterback Dwayne Lawhorn, Jr.
Pethan, filling in for returning second-team all-conference running back Joe Lemerond, who was limited to one carry for 8 yards as a precautionary measure, led all rushers with 114 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. His final carry of the game was a 23-yard sprint off right tackle that gave the Warhawks a 21-0 lead with 9:59 left in the second quarter.
"Spencer was taking the majority of the reps this week, so he got the start," Davis said. "Joe's still there, so we have both of them. Spencer was doing a really nice job. He's a hard runner; that's what we saw in him."
Lawhorn Jr. displayed his rocket launcher left arm, opening his season by throwing for 78 yards on 4 of 6 attempts and completing a 37-yard scoring strike to Connor Schulz with 8:00 left in the second quarter, giving his team a 28-0 lead. It was his second-to-last play of the game. The next was a 2-yard scoring run by Luis De La Pena after a bad snap on a punt gave the Warhawks great field position.
They were helped in that regard by kicker Carter Schmitz, who had eight touchbacks on his nine kickoffs and made all eight of his extra-point attempts.
After that, it was time for some of the reserves to get in on the action. Backup quarterback Nate Seymour had 118 yards passing and tossed a 34-yard touchdown strike to junior William Renard, who finished with 60 yards on two catches. Schulz led the Warhawks with three catches for 70 yards.
Germantown had a 240-33 edge in yardage at the half and finished with a margin of 344-152, collecting 17 first downs.
"I was happy to see the big explosive plays," Davis said.
Not to be overlooked in the offensive fireworks was a defense that held the Hustlin' Hawks to three first downs in the first half.
"There were a lot of shoes to fill," Davis said of his defensive roster. "I think the guys did a nice job stepping up on that side of the ball."
For Davis, it was hard to look a gift horse (56 points including a 35-point second quarter) in the mouth and start nit-picking, but to get to the level they want to be at, there are a few things the Warhawks need to work on. Their second and third first-quarter drives ended on a false start penalty and a deflected interception.
"I'm trying to get my guys to always start faster and faster," Davis said. "I think we started a little slow for us today. That's what we need to keep working on. Against the top opponents in our conference, we want to start fast and keep building. Our guys are perfectionists, and they critique themselves pretty hard, as hard as we do as coaches."
Next up for the Warhawks will be a trip to Hartford on Friday, Aug. 29. The Orioles opened the season with a 29-8 loss at Homestead.
"I'm hoping to see a great week of practice, which turns into a great game," Davis said.
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