Datka back with Germantown football again

Published on: 8/12/2013

There's a jovial, smiling middle-aged figure on the Germantown football practice fields trying to hide behind the much younger and thinner quarterbacks who he's working with.

Only he's doing a poor job of disguising himself.

'One of my friends came up to me and said 'You're coaching quarterbacks? Boy are they in trouble,'' laughed long-time Warhawks Hall of Fame coach Phil Datka, who has joined the staff of third-year Warhawks coach Jake Davis.

Datka retired from head coaching after the 2010 season and promptly joined the staff over at Brookfield Central, which is headed up by former Warhawks star running back Jamie Meulemans. He was part of an all-star staff in both 2011 and 2012.

He loved the kids over in Brookfield, but the 30-minute drive each way every day all fall got to be a grind. Datka did the math in terms of how many times he had to stop at the gas pump.

'During those seasons I would have to fill up the car once a week,' he said. 'Where now, it's only once every two-and-a-half to three weeks.

'And I even have Sirius (satellite radio for the drive),' he chuckled, 'but then I hurt my knee (last fall) doing nothing and I had to miss my first game in 44 years. I made the decision that I didn't know how long I would be doing this anymore but I'd rather have the five-minute drive here (from his house in Germantown) than the 30-minute one (in Brookfield).

'I told Jamie (Meulemans) right away and he understood.'

But what about current Warhawks head man Davis? What would he think of having the two-time state champion, state Hall of Fame, name-on-the-side-of-the-stadium-guy working among his staff?

'No, this is no problem at all,' said Davis. 'He's been great. He likes the assistant's role, and I've been around long enough that the guys see me as the man (the head coach). He's a good guy to have around.'

Datka coached over 40 years at Germantown and won WIAA State Division 2 championships in 1998 and 2003.

And yes, he is having fun working with junior returning starter Dwayne Lawhorn and the two other quarterbacks in camp. Because of the still bothersome knee, he's getting around in a cart during practice and there's a good chance he'll be in the pressbox, rather than on the sidelines, during games this fall.

But then again, he still gets to have a good time with all the alumni who are still around the Germantown area and patting him on the back.

'We had our family fun day the other day at practice and (former players) Jimmy Ferguson and Joe Liberatore were there,' he said. 'It's just good to see everyone.'

And be seen back on old familiar turf.