Okay, so its not quite in the realm of "Miracle on Ice," but the Menomonee Falls football team clearly is doing some special things.
In a big way.
Just a week after the Indians knocked off unbeaten Brookfield Central to pull themselves off the mat and into the WIAA state playoffs in their regular-season closer, they took their 4-5 record on the road to face 9-0 Menasha, a full 83 miles away, and did it again Oct. 21 in Level 1 of the Division 2 postseason.
Falls relied on trick plays, old-fashioned willpower, its second late big-time defensive stop in as many weeks and a mistake that turned out to be a benefit. The result was a win over a second unbeaten opponent in as many tries with a 21-14 victory over the Blue Jays.
To say coach Dan Lutz's Indians are playing with house money is a vast understatement. They seem to feel like they have a line of credit as large as the federal deficit. And why shouldn't they? Falls is feeling no pressure whatsoever.
"No, not at all," said Lutz. "We're used to stuff like this, because we feel we've been in the playoffs for three weeks now. The kids know how to play with pressure right now. We're pretty loose and having fun."
Like two-way tackle and Wisconsin recruit Matt Henningsen said on Twitter later that night:
"I love football"
For many myriad reasons.
The Indians will try to continue their run of miracles when they visit Greater Metro Conference rival and bracket third seed Brookfield East (8-2) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28. The Indians lost to the Spartans in a regular season game, 20-0, back on Sept. 30. Returning Now All-Suburban Player of the year Sam Santiago-Lloyd (running back/linebacker) was just coming back from injury that game, but now he's at full strength. An even bigger issue for the Indians will be moving the ball, as East completely stymied the Indians to the tune of just 42 total yards that night.
East advanced into Level with a 38-8 rout of Cedarburg on Oct. 21.
Right now, Lutz wouldn't be surprised by anything that happens.
"Heck, we play in the Greater Metro, we're not intimidated by anyone," he said.
They were clearly not by the Blue Jays, a team ranked No. 2 in the state in the final Division 2 poll. The Indians traveled comfortably in two coach buses with a good pre-game meal and were supported by a surprisingly large fan contingent, including a large volume of students.
"That was fantastic," said Lutz.
Menasha provided no game statistics, and local papers did not cover the game, so details are based on Lutz's memory.
The score was tied at 14-all at the half and remained that way through the third quarter. The Indians finally put together a solid drive early in the fourth quarter, getting to the Menasha 10-yard line. They called for a pass play designed for a specific receiver. But quarterback Arick Gleissner had other plans, hitting end Cameron Jemison in the right corner of the end zone for the go-ahead TD.
Lutz could only laugh and say, "It worked."
Then, Menasha came down the field intent on tying the game. Just like the previous week against Central, Falls showed tenacity as it bent, but didn't break as the Blue Jays got to the Indians' 10-yard line. Menasha went for it on fourth down, but Falls got the stop. The Indians ran one play, kneeled down twice and happily escaped with the win. Unlike the previous week, Gleissner remembered to bring out his helmet for the kneeldowns.
The trick play was how the Indians got the early lead. They ran what looked to be a jet sweep to Cameron Jemison, only it was a quarterback throwback play. After handing the ball off, Gleissner drifted downfield, completely uncovered. Jemison then hit him perfectly as the play covered approximately 50 yards for an early 7-0 lead.
Jemison, who threw an option pass touchdown last week against Central last week, made a beautiful throw, said Lutz.
"Much better than last week," Lutz laughed, "and Arick did a great job getting open."
The Blue Jays came back to tie it, but Falls took the lead again on a short Julius Davis TD run in the second quarter.
Menasha tied it up just before the half, though, then even tried a couple of trick plays themselves, succeeding on one fake punt before the Indians suspected and foiled another.
As Lutz indicated, the Indians have seen it all at this point.
Now, they're ready to take the next step.
"This was a great trip, a very satisfying win," Lutz said. "We've beaten the one seed in this bracket (Central), the two seed (Menasha) and now we're aiming at the three (East)."