A few weeks ago, the Germantown football team couldn't have imagined a WIAA playoff berth, much less a home playoff game.
Even further from their realm of reality was a potential rematch with archrival Homestead, a team the Warhawks will no longer play starting next year when Germantown moves into the Greater Metro Conference.
But the Warhawks earned all those things. They beat Port Washington and Milwaukee Lutheran in their final two regular season games to get into the playoffs, and the seeding gods were kind and gave them a Division 2, Level 1 home playoff game against Shorewood/Messmer out of the Woodland Conference on a chilly, Oct. 21.
Germantown took full advantage, seizing a 28-0 lead at the quarter and then coasting to a 49-8 victory over the Greyhounds. With the win, the Warhawks (5-5 overall) will now advance to a Level 2 playoff game at North Shore Conference champion and defending state D2 power Homestead (9-1), likely on Friday, Oct. 28. The Highlanders routed Bradley Tech, 56-0, in their opening round game.
Germantown lost to Homestead, 21-3 on Sept. 9. Coach Jake Davis, an alumnus of Homestead, can't wait for this second chance.
"We talked about the last one being the last one, but here we are again," he said. "We just kept fighting, we stayed alive and now here we are."
His players are excited for the opportunity, too.
"This feels great," said senior quarterback Collin Sathe, who hit four of seven passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. "We haven't won a playoff game in a few years. There was a lot of doubt about us around here, I hope we've been able to erase a bit of it."
Meanwhile, the Greyhounds finished at 5-5.
Coach Chad Hofmann was pleased with the effort of his short-handed team, which simply didn't have the manpower up front to handle the Warhawks.
"We were a little wounded going into this one," he said. "Grant Brown (defensive back/running back) was a little hobbled and (leading receiver) Aaron Eimers was out, too. But the boys battled and fought. We'll learn from this experience, and our younger kids will get better."
It was a steep learning curve for the Greyhounds early on as the Warhawks hit hard and they hit fast. They took the opening kickoff and scored in eight plays when Austin Mozdzen raced in from seven yards out for a TD at the 8:34 mark.
After a Messwood punt, it took them only three plays to pad the lead as Sathe hit a wide-open Jaylen Carter on a 46-yard TD pass to make it 14-0.
A major highlight of the evening for Germantown was the effort of senior punt returner Dan Lakich, who grabbed the next punt and went off to the races for 56 yards and a TD to make it 21-0. Lakich was just warming up.
Shortly after that, Sathe hit Josh Acker on a 38-yard TD pass for a 28-0, still in the first quarter.
Messwood was forced to punt again on the first play of the second period, and that's when Lakich really made his night, snagging the punt on the 39, making one good cutback to the sideline and not stopping until he had another score.
"This was something I couldn't have dreamed of," he said. "We got to play one more home game, and I got to score a touchdown, which is amazing. To score two of them is absolutely surreal."
Dabis was happy for Lakich.
"That was an absolutely very cool thing for him," said Davis. "He does a great job for us back there and to see him have that kind of success is just amazing."
Germantown scored once more before the half was ended,stopping Messwood on the Warhawks' 10 and turning around to drive 90 yards for the score. Sathe raced in from 16 yards out with 35 seconds left in the half to make it 42-0 at the break.
The running clock was on in the very short second half, and the Greyhounds finally got on the board with a Joe Friedman to Lael Thompson 20-yard TD pass. Jefferson Carson caught the 2-point conversion, but the Warhawks would not be denied the last word, as Messwood tried an onside kick, but it bounced right to Germantown's Calvin Knapp, who had a wide open shot down the sideline for a 56-yard touchdown to close out the scoring.
Friedman hit 10 passes for 125 yards and rushed for 36 yards, even as he was under siege by the Germantown defense.
"Joe's a special kid," said Hofmann. "There's never any quit in him. He's just fiery and spirited all the time."
Ben Grabowski grabbed three passes for 45 yards, while Thompson caught three for 35, and Henry Peters two for 48 for the Greyhounds.
Mozdzen rushed 10 times for 65 yards for Germantown, while Acker had two catches for 53 yards.
"We executed, focused and took care of business," said Davis. "I was really happy with how we came out of the gates running."
With another with date Homestead as the reward
"To come here (Datka Stadium) and win one more time is very cool," said Lakich. "Homestead got the better of us the first time, but we'll see next week if we can fix that."