In two previous WIAA playoff meetings this decade, the Brookfield East football team could not even slow down the Cedarburg offense.
The Bulldogs prevailed over the Spartans by scores of 42-17 in 2013 and 49-13 in 2014.
This season, however, things were different, with East controlling Cedarburg from the start and rolling to a 38-8 victory in a Level 1 playoff game on Oct. 21 at East.
"Our guys took it as a challenge," East coach Ben Farley said. "We have a little bit of history. We played them in 2013 and 2014, and quite frankly, we couldn't stop them one bit. We watched film on that, and I'm really happy the way they performed."
The Spartans held Cedarburg to three-and-outs on the first two possessions, and they were able to move the ball themselves.
Their first drive, which started at the Cedarburg 34-yard line after a nice punt return by Justin Parbs, ended with a 37-yard field goal by Cam Bauer for a 3-0 lead.
Their second possession was a 66-yard drive highlighted by 39 rushing yards by Sam Santiago-Lloyd and ending with a 9-yard touchdown by quarterback Jake Graf. The point after was good, and the Spartans were up, 10-0, with 1 minute, 53 seconds left in the first quarter.
Cedarburg put together its first drive of the game to move from its own 38 to the East 35, but turned the ball over on downs.
The Spartans then marched 65 yards in seven plays, with Santiago-Lloyd hauling in a 22-yard pass, then later taking a direct snap and running 18 yards to the Cedarburg 1. Appropriately, he plunged over the pile for the touchdown on the next play, and the extra point made it 17-0.
The Bulldogs then turned to quarterback Jack Meyer, who completed passes of 34 and 30 yards to Mitch Moeller to reach the East 10. The drive stalled, though, and a 29-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Ron Edwards.
"We struggled a little bit and were inconsistent on a few things," Cedarburg coach Brian Leair said. "They (the Spartans) had a lot to do with that, though."
Later, East was on the move again and Graf tallied from 5 yards out with just 11 seconds left in the first half, and the Spartans carried a 24-0 lead into the half.
Midway through the third period, Santiago-Lloyd ran the ball three consecutive plays for 51 yards, capped by a 43-yard touchdown. He took the ball on a direct snap, something the Spartans did on several occasions, bulled through the line and broke clear for the score.
"He's one of those guys that as the game goes along, he seems to get better and better," Farley said.
The touchdown run, as it turned out, capped Santiago-Lloyd's night at 188 yards on the ground.
"He's very tough," Leair said of Santiago-Lloyd, "but I was pleased with how our defense battled. I really felt we made them work for it. He is exceptional, though; there's no hiding that."
East's Skylar Rashid intercepted a Meyer pass to set East up at the Cedarburg 14, and Graf ran in from 19 yards to make it 38-0.
The Bulldogs got a consolation touchdown in the fourth period. Spencer Brattebo had several nice runs, and Meyer completed a long pass to Mitchell Stroebel inside the East 10 to set up Alec Baye's score with 1:26 left. Baye also ran in for a 2-point conversion.
Meyer finished 11 of 23 for 172 yards passing, with the rangy Moeller catching eight passes for 135 yards.
Leair said his team, which finished an uncharacteristic 4-6. was far from 100 percent.
"We've got a lot of injuries," he said. "The kids have held together week by week, but I think that caught up to us here. We had 10-plus kids out who had started at some point in the season. Clayton Van Tassel was out, and that's a huge loss. We also had some kids playing who were banged up. That contributed to (the loss), but Brookfield East is a very good team and did a great job."
The Spartans, who improved to 8-2, now face Greater Metro Conference rival Menomonee Falls at home at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, in the second round of the playoffs.