Germantown - Germantown NOW All-Suburban defensive end Joe Kretlow gets to a quarterback so quick, he's often back in his own huddle before the opposition can even wipe the grass off their face masks.
OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that the 6-2, 197-pound senior is quick.
"He has a motor that just doesn't quit and an intensity that's hard to match," his coach Jake Davis said.
Kretlow laughs at all the speed jokes, but he does know on which side his bread is buttered. He's been playing football since he was 5 years old in the "Little Gridders" program,
"I've always been a speed player ever since I was little," he said. "The (offensive) tackles always seemed to be bigger than me so I had to use something else to try and beat them."
And it worked to great effectiveness, as Kretlow, the North Shore Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the 7-3 Warhawks, finished his football days at Germantown the career sacks leader with 24. He had at least 7 1/2 this season along with 17 tackles for loss.
Credits coaches for success
Kretlow, who runs a 4.8 40-yard dash, had to take on more of a leadership role this fall as Germantown had graduated all-world defenders like linebacker Dan Olson and defensive back Ben Holcomb. Kretlow credits the work of assistant coach Mike Pfeiffer, who works with the defensive ends and linebackers, for helping the Warhawks develop into a cohesive unit.
A unit that helped Germantown give North Shore Conference co-champ Whitefish Bay (10-2) its only regular season loss.
"Coach Pfeiffer really understood what we were trying to do and put us into positions where we could succeed," Kretlow said. He also noted that longtime defensive coordinator Dave Branske was a great technique coach, as he learned the effective "push-pull" tactic of getting around an offensive lineman from him.
Still, Kretlow admitted to liking the bull-rush technique the best where he could use his quick first step to great effectiveness. He and the Warhawks admitted the close of the season a bit disappointing, as they had losses in two of their last three games. But it is of some solace that those two defeats were at the hands of state Diviison 2 champ and archrival Homestead and to eventual state Division 1 champ Hartland Arrowhead.
Team comes first
Kretlow is proud of the sacks record.
"I worked so hard for it, but I really tried not to focus on the numbers, I just really wanted to help the team," he said. "We just wanted to get stronger as a defense as the year went along."
Kretlow, who played a little basketball his freshmen and sophomore years, knows at his size he will have to make a transition to linebacker if he wants to play football in college. He is getting some looks from some prominent NCAA Division II schools, who like that motor Davis talked about.
And as ambitious as Kretlow was for the sacks record, he's also as ambitious in his career goals.
"I'd really like to get into law if I could," he said.
He's been so good at laying down the law in football, no one would doubt that he would succeed at that, too.