It's not just Homestead and Whitefish Bay that the Germantown football team has gotten down in the dirt and muddy with over the last 15 years or so in the North Shore Conference.
When the Warhawks head off to the Greater Metro Conference next season they will also be saying goodbye to crafty Cedarburg coach Brian Leair and his Bulldogs.
And just like the epic loss to Bay on Sept. 23, the Warhawks' last game with the Bulldogs on Sept. 30 was memorable -- and, unfortunately, on the wrong side of the scoreboard, as Cedarburg kept its WIAA playoff hopes alive and put Germantown's on life support as it rallied for two fourth quarter TDs to beat its rivals, 35-28.
"It came down to a matter of who had the ball last," said Germantown coach Jake Davis, "and with their (double-wing) offense it was tough to stop them. They were just able to limit the number of possessions."
The loss dropped the Warhawks to 2-3 in the North Shore and 2-5 overall. They need to win their last two games to qualify for the state playoffs, and it will start when Port Washington (3-2, 4-3) comes into town for a 7 p.m. visit on Friday, Oct. 7. The high-scoring Pirates routed Grafton on Sept. 23 and are on the verge of a playoff berth themselves for the first time in years.
For Davis and the Warhawks, it's a matter of making just one more play, getting one more stop.
"The morale is still good," he said. "I saw a lot of emotion after this one (the Cedarburg loss). All that emotion in the kids is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if we can channel it in the right way, keep ourselves moving in the right direction, because the hardest thing about all this, is that in none of these recent games have we been really railed."
Seldom has that happened in the Cedarburg-Germantown series in the last 15 years, as on a misty, windy night Sept. 30, the momentum shifted with the breeze.
Austin Mozdzen gave Germantown a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 3-yard run, but then the Bulldogs surged ahead, 14-7, at the half. They scored early in the third quarter to make it 21-7, but then the Warhawks found their mojo.
Just as he did last week with both an option pass for TD and a blocked kick return for score against Bay, Waymon McNeal provided another spark for the Warhawks by returning a kickoff 84 yards down the right side for a TD to make it 21-14. That was followed by a 9-yard run for score by quarterback Collin Sathe to tie the score, and before the period ended, Sathe connected with Colten Thomas on a 29-yard TD pass to give Germantown a 28-21 advantage heading into the fourth.
But after that, the Warhawks' defense had a hard time keeping the Bulldogs' offense off the field as the Bulldogs would score on both 19-and-7-yard runs. One drive came after the Warhawks failed on a fourth-and-short around the Cedarburg 30.
The Bulldogs then reversed the field and marched the ball right into the end zone, said Davis.
After Cedarburg went ahead, Germantown got the ball back with 2:30 to go and a chance to tie. They got to the Bulldogs' 20-yard line but could not finish, and Cedarburg was able to hold on and improve to 3-2 in NSC play and 3-4 overall.
"It was a typical kind of game that we've been playing with them for the last 15 years," said Davis. "We just needed to correct a couple of things, and we couldn't get them done."