Mequon - There were plenty of good parts about the 58-20 rout that Homestead inflicted on Grafton last Friday.
Such as the awakening of the long-dormant passing game, as Jake Laihinen completed 11 of 13 passes for 212 yards and a very impressive five TD passes. Three of the TD receptions went to Jay Schneider, who now has 10 touchdowns for the 4-0 Highlanders.
But coach Dave Keel, when asked if there were any defenders to take note of in this effort, declined, deferring to his veteran and well-regarded defensive coordinator Fritz Rauch.
"Fritz wasn't too happy with his guys the other night so I don't think it would be a good idea to praise any," Keel said.
But it's safe to say that Rauch will have his unit working extremely hard during this Homecoming week in preparation for Friday's game with Cedarburg's dangerous double-wing offense.
The Bulldogs (2-1 North Shore Conference, 3-1 overall) are one of several teams tied for second in conference behind the unbeaten Highlanders and are coming off a near-miraculous fourth quarter 22-18 rally over Germantown last Friday.
Cedarburg trailed 18-8 with just over nine minutes to go but in just over two minutes, scored twice with the help of interceptions to take control.
Junior running back Hudson Walton, sophomore quarterback Mike Mojica and senior tight end Matt Johnson triggered the potent offense.
Homestead and Cedarburg technically tied for the North Shore title last season though the Highlanders did defeat the Bulldogs.
"We know we're going to have to step up and play," Keel said.
A repeat showing from Laihinen would also be a help. Keel said his senior signal-caller's efforts against Grafton were borne of necessity. The Blackhawks (0-4) stymied the running game as top back Shaquille Cole was held to just 12 yards on six carries.
"So we had to throw the ball a little bit," Keel said.
With the help of Laihinen and Schneider, the Highlanders got off to a large halftime lead and never looked back.
Keel said Laihinen showed aptitude in a variety of throws, including play action, pop passes and down the field efforts.
"We were just taking what they were giving us," Keel said. "We're not really a passing team, but we like to be mixed (offensively)."
Others praised offensively for the Highlanders included Ben Binversie, Darius Cross and Brett Geschke.
"But we have some work to do defensively," Keel said.
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