Crunch time, and could it get any more fun than that?
Not if you're a Homestead football player and you're trying to win another North Shore Conference championship.
The Highlanders (5-0 in league, 7-0 overall), fresh off their 56-14 homecoming rout of Milwaukee Lutheran on Friday visits arch-rival Germantown (4-1, 6-1) at 7 p.m. Friday before finishing up the regular season at home against Whitefish Bay (3-2, 5-2) on Oct. 18.
There is a prospect of a three-way tie for the North Shore title just as there was in 2002, as Cedarburg (4-1, 5-2) has a considerably easier closing schedule and will be watching the outcome of the Germantown-Homestead game with rapt attention.
Highlanders coach Dave Keel likes this test.
"I think this is another opportunity to have a game that is a huge challenge," he said. "You find out who you are playing the Arrowheads (who the Highlanders beat in week two) and the Germantowns of the world."
Germantown coach Jake Davis, a former center for Keel at Homestead from 1999-2001, can't wait for the opportunity. The Warhawks have not won a conference title since that tri-crown with Homestead and Cedarburg in 2002.
"It's what football is all about," he said. "The games you live for, the kind of games kids love. I would love to call Dave (Keel) and say 'Let's go right now!'"
The Highlanders exploded for 28 points in the second half to break open a scoreless halftime tie against Germantown last season to win, 28-7. That game was the eventual launching pad to Homestead's fourth WIAA state championship later that November.
Keel thinks his team is ready for the challenge.
"We've got a week to clear up a few mistakes and it'll be a chance for us to sharpen our focus," he said. "I really like how our defense is playing right now."
With good reason, as the defense accounted for two touchdowns and nearly had a third in the win over Milwaukee Lutheran (1-6).
The Highlanders already had a 21-0 first quarter lead when sophomore lineman Walter Geiger picked off a pass and rumbled in from 12 yards out to make it 28-0.
Then, in the second quarter, junior linebacker Ben Gust snagged his own "Pick 6" this time from 30 yards out. That made the score 42-0 and came just 17 seconds after junior running back Cole Murphy had raced in from six yards out.
Keel chuckled when he thought of the near-miss on the third defensive score earlier in the game when senior middle linebacker Jakab Mirgai grabbed his own interception and was headed to paydirt at the end of the first quarter.
"But instead, like a linebacker, he thought it would be fun to run into another guy instead of going into the end zone," Keel said laughing. Mirgai was stopped a yard short of the end zone and Murphy eventually finished things off by diving for the score a play later.
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