When faced with the suspension of his team's season-opening game with Kenosha Indian Trail due to lightning and storms Aug. 19, Germantown football coach Jake Davis had a flashback to his playing days.
The Warhawks game, which wound up being canceled after a first half that saw Indian Trail build a 21-7 lead, was reminiscent for Davis of his then-Homestead team's crazy come-from-behind win over Germantown in early September 2001. Warhawks quarterback Jeff Holzbauer had passed like mad all over the field and helped Germantown build a 28-19 lead at the half, but then storms rolled in and delayed the game for awhile.
When the game resumed, Homestead adopted a strategy of pounding the ball on the ground and keeping the ball away from Holzbauer and Germantown. At the heart of the strategy was Davis, who was the center on a very strong offensive line for the Highlanders. The strategy worked to perfection, as Homestead roared back for a 46-28 victory.
"I was talking to Dave Branske and Mike Pfieffer (Warhawks assistants who were on that staff in 2001), and the whole situation struck me as eerily similar to that game," said Davis. "We (Homestead) were down big against Germantown, too. And I was thinking of trying that same strategy (running the ball) in the second half here, because you just never know how things would turn out."
But the game was postponed and then eventually called off at halftime after storms rolled into the Falls/Germantown area around 8 p.m. Davis said Indian Trail didn't want to come back on Saturday, Aug. 20 and try to finish it due to the long travel considerations and getting ready for its next game on Aug. 26 against Homestead.
"We would have continued," said Davis, "but this was totally fine. I understood what they were thinking (by not continuing)."
"But it is something of a weird feeling," said Davis. 'I don't know how to place it. I guess it goes down as a 'non-game.'"
The Warhawks will now ready to visit Catholic Memorial at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25 at Waukesha North. The WIAA State Division 2 runner-up Crusaders were 49-6 winners over Milwaukee Riverside in their opener.
Davis said the Warhawks came out of the Indian Trail "half-game" largely in one piece and should be ready for Memorial. They lost to the Crusaders last season.
He said they'll work on defense a fair amount this week after the Indian Trail used a surprisingly good passing game led by state placewinning track jumper Armani Carmickle, who was particularly effective at his receiver's position.
"They were really good with it (the passing game)," said Davis, "and we had a lot of new guys in certain positions."
The Hawks returned the opening kickoff to the 40-yard line and used their version of the pistol offense to march down the field and put Germantown on its heels. Carmickle made a spectacular catch at the 9:48 mark for a touchdown, with a leap high over a defender who had good coverage to catch the pass from Jared Wenberg.
"It looked like we had position on him, but he is going to make plays on you," Davis said.
After Germantown's Colten Thomas dropped a sure TD pass over the middle on fourth down of the next drive, KIT ran with ease through the Germantown defense, with Carmickle scoring again on a play-action fake in the final minute of the first quarter.
Indian Trail had the ball again deep in Germantown territory after a fumble, but this time, the defense responded and stopped Indian Trail on downs.
Austin Mozdzen found the edge and went about 80 yards for an impressive touchdown on the first play of the ensuing series.
"He took a good angle, slowed down at just the right spot and then pulled away," said Davis. "He showed really good speed. We haven't had that kind of burst in a little while."
But unfortunately, the Warhawks fumbled a short time later, and that led to a short field and an easy score for Indian Trail.
"We can't put ourselves in those situations where we fumble the ball down here and given them a short field," Davis said. "They're a team you can't do that with. There are teams in our conference that are just like that, and you can't do that with them, either. So we've got to make sure we run those corrections."
The game went into halftime at 21-7, and the first storm warning was announced roughly three minutes into the break. The game in Menomonee Falls with Oak Creek was delayed at a similar time, moved to Sunday for completion.
Davis will look for improvement next week.
"The things we made mistakes on are correctable," he said. "Just shooting ourselves in the foot. What we do need to do is get a little more stout in the middle (defensively)."
Davis will look forward to getting a full game in.
"Hopefully that will be the first and last game like this," he said. "It was such a weird feeling not finishing."
-- Chris Barlow contributed to this story.