Germantown - No one's saying this game is for the North Shore Conference football championship already, but when vastly experienced league favorite Whitefish Bay visits young, but very talented Germantown at 7 p.m. Friday in the opener of NSC play, both coaches agree it will have major title implications.
'Conference is going to come up and smack us right in the face,' said Germantown coach Jake Davis, whose team opened the campaign with an impressive 30-0 rout of Hartford Friday. 'We've lost some tough ones in the past to (Bay), but that loss to them last year (another intense and early 21-17 decision) was one of the reasons why we didn't at least share the (NSC) title last season.'
Whitefish Bay coach Jim Tietjen said he knows high expectations surround his team. And he's not going to get too bogged down in discussions of conference titles, state playoffs or even state titles.
'My hopes are entirely tied up in going out there and competing each week,' Tietjen said. 'Germantown, Cedarburg, Homestead, we've got to go out and win each week in this league. We've got to prepare and prepare well because there are no patsies out there.
'And that Germantown quarterback (sophomore Dwayne Lawhorn Jr.) is really dangerous. The kid can throw it deeper than any Germantown quarterback I've seen in awhile.'
Need to contain Gray
A key to the game, no doubt, will be whether or not the Warhawks, who started six sophomores in Week 1, can stay with the experienced Blue Dukes, who feature state champion track sprinter, state qualifying wrestler and returning NOW All-Suburban running back Rashadeem Gray, who rushed for 200 yards and four TDs in Bay's 42-0 win over Slinger Friday.
Davis is looking forward to the challenge.
'It would be a great win if we could get it, but it'll take a great effort,' he said. 'It'll be our home opener, so everyone is looking forward to it and we love revving it up against Bay.'
In complete control
Germantown certainly did so against Hartford, as the 6-2, 172-pound Lawhorn, who played on the 8-1 freshmen team last season, was 10 of 17 for 168 yards passing and got big help from senior end Jason Townsend, who had four catches for 107 yards including a 19-yard TD in the second quarter.
The Warhawks' first touchdown of the season came on their opening drive, as senior back Tyler Baran began his featured back status on an impressive note. He finished the drive with a two-yard score and later had a four-yard jaunt into the end zone in the fourth quarter en route to a 29-carry, 161-yard rushing effort.
'Tyler's a workhorse,' Davis said. 'He really fought well for that extra yardage.'
The future is now
In a sign of things to come, Germantown's second touchdown was Lawhorn's first TD pass of his career as he hit fellow sophomore 6-4, 200-pound tight end Cole Karcz on a drag pattern across the front of the end zone from eight yards out.
It was also a great start for Karcz, as he was celebrating his 15th birthday that night.
The score was 21-0 at the half. The Orioles, who were limited to just 81 total yards by the Germantown defense, helped the Warhawks out in the fourth quarter by botching a punt snap, resulting in a safety.
All told, Germantown finished with 330 yards of total offense.
Defensive stars shine
Defensively, Davis was even more pleased, as veteran defenders Hunter Higginbotham (line) and Joe Kretlow (linebacker) picked up where they left off a year ago. Higginbotham got great penetration, which greatly disrupted the Orioles' attack and Kretlow was all over the field, including a spectacular one-handed interception where he tipped the ball to himself.
Sophomore defensive end Lincoln Gruber (6-1, 180) also had two sacks.
'I liked the execution, the small things that we did well,' Davis said. 'For the first game of the season, it went pretty well. There are just some one-time things that we can correct pretty easily.'
Just in time to start a run toward a potential conference title.