A week after getting shut out and seeing its 67-game conference winning streak snapped, the Homestead Highlanders emphatically extended a different winning streak Friday night.
With a 55-12 victory over Milwaukee King in round one of the WIAA state tournament, the Highlanders have now won 14 consecutive opening round playoff games. Homestead has not lost in the first round of the playoffs since losing to Mukwonago in 1994.
The Highlanders didn't take long to shake off last week's shutout, scoring just 2:04 seconds into the game on a 56-yard touchdown run by junior Jay Schneider. It was just the second offensive play from scrimmage for Homestead, and the drive was set up by a DeAngelo Dantzler interception to end the Generals first drive. Dantzler, a senior, would add a second interception early in the second quarter.
Head coach Dave Keel was happy with how the Highlanders bounced back from last week's lone conference loss to Germantown.
“We weren't real good last week, so I was pleased with how our kids came out tonight,” Keel said. “They were frustrated with the performance at Germantown, so they took matters into their own hands.”
Despite falling behind early, the Generals managed to answer back a few minutes later executing a beautiful hook and lateral play from 28 yards out. Senior quarterback Nigel Crowley hit junior Jordan Lewandowski with a short pass, and Lewandowski then pitched it to sophomore Cheng Fu Hang, who scampered in for a touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion attempt, Homestead still led, 7-6.
That would be as close as King would get, as Homestead combined a ruthless running attack with a dominating defensive performance the rest of the way. In the first half, the Highlanders averaged over 12 yards per carry, tallying 301 yards and six touchdowns on just 25 carries. Overall, seven Homestead ball carriers totaled 363 yards and accounted for all eight Highlanders scoring plays.
Senior Antoine Easterling finished with 104 yards and two first half touchdowns to lead the Highlanders to a 41-6 halftime lead. The other six rushing touchdowns were scored by six different runners.
On the defensive side, sophomore Bryce Juedes added an interception to the two nabbed by Dantzler and the King offense was held to negative-nine yards on 14 carries.
“Our offensive line had a real nice game,” Keel said. “They opened up some nice holes and our kids took advantage of it
“We haven't had a lot of interceptions, so it was good to see and it gave us great field position.”
The Generals did show fight late in the game racking up 208 yards passing and scoring a late fourth quarter touchdown. The playoff loss for King is the second in three years to Homestead.
“We talked about at halftime to play with heart and drive the entire game,” Milwaukee King Head Coach Tom Wozniak said. “We have to establish a 'never give up,' attitude and I think we showed that we have that.”
Homestead now travels to play City Conference champion Milwaukee Riverside next week in the second round. They last met in the playoffs in 2005, with the Highlanders shutting out Riverside, 35-0, as part of the first-round winning streak.
“We bounced back nicely tonight and next week is going to be another tough game,” senior Homestead quarterback Cody Berger said. “It's going to be a good game and we'll be ready for it."