Nope, no one in the Homestead football camp was caught looking ahead to this Thursday's re-match with two-time WIAA State D1 champion Arrowhead in the Highlanders' workmanlike 29-8 opening night win over Hartford on Friday, Aug. 22.
The Highlander offense, behind veteran quarterback Nick Allen, was methodical and efficient and the defense created turnovers and kept the Orioles from scoring until the game's 90 final seconds.
They even managed the thick fog, which was so dense at times the teams had a hard time seeing each other from across the field.
In short, it was a perfect prelude to Homestead's "Clash of the Titans II" this Thursday, Aug. 28 at Arrowhead (7 p.m.).
"They were a solid team and played reasonably well against us," said Keel of Hartford. "This was not a blowout. We came off the ball well, which was cool to see. They only had one serious drive (against our first unit) and they got inside the 15 before we turned them over on downs. But there were some things. We got some new running backs out there and any time you have a situation like that, it's going to be a work in progress. That is one area where we still have a lot of work to do."
In a short amount of time, to get ready for a motivated opponent. Arrowhead was supposed to roll all over Homestead in last year's battle at Homestead. Instead, a motivated Highlander team found ways to stymie the potent Warhawk offense and pull off an impressive 13-7 victory.
Homestead used the win as a spirngboard to an impressive 11-1 season, which ended only with a Level 3 playoff loss to eventual state D2 champ Kimberly, while Arrowhead found its way and eventually rolled to a second consecutive D1 state crown.
"We found out what we needed to work on in that game and Arrowhead definitely found some things it needed to get done, too," said Keel. "It worked out so well they won a second state title. That's why you play games like this. That's why you do this. We'll both learn and grow in the process, but I just have the feeling that the Warhawks will have just a little chip on their shoulder (from last year)."
The two teams wouldn't have it any other way, as Arrowhead comes into the game off an impressive 33-0 triumph over Kenosha Bradford.
Homestead began its game against Hartford slowly with a scoreless first quarter, but then it got help from its defense as newcomer defensive end David Hathaway tipped a pass which fellow defensive lineman Zach Beale intercepted.
"It was great to see a defensive lineman come up with an interception like that," said Keel.
A short time later, sophomore running back Michael Fehrenbach ran it in from 7 yards for the Highlanders' first touchdown of the season. Fehrenbach also ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 second quarter lead.
A short time later, Allen found his favorite target, junior end Jack Popp, on a 13-yard TD pass for a 15-0 Homestead lead at the break.
Matt Winters all but cemented the game for the Highlanders with a 2-yard rush for score in the third and Allen called his own number in the fourth quarter and took it in for Homestead's final TD of the night from 3 yards out.
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