If this was the last installment of the Homestead-Germantown rivalry we’re going to see for some time, it wasn’t representative of what became one of the most storied rivalries in Wisconsin high school football.
The defending state champion Highlanders (10-1) thoroughly dominated visiting Germantown, 31-7, in Friday’s WIAA Division 2, Level 2 playoff.
Homestead faces another familiar foe in a Level 3 matchup when No. 2-seeded Whitefish Bay (8-3) comes to town again. The Blue Dukes defeated Greenfield, 48-31.
The top-seeded Highlanders entered Friday a heavy favorite and won at Germantown (5-6) on Sept. 9, 21-3, but an up-and-down Germantown team, seeded fourth, was riding a three-game winning streak and scored 55, 45 and 49 points in those games.
With the storied history between these two teams, Homestead knew this was one it couldn’t take lightly.
“It’s very sad that this is the end,” Homestead head coach Dave Keel said regarding next season’s conference realignment that will take Germantown from the North Shore Conference and put it in the Greater Metro. “Germantown is always a tough team, they always play hard and bring everything they’ve got. It’s just too bad.”
The Warhawks hung with Homestead for a half, but ultimately, it was the Highlanders defense that proved too much.
Homestead scored easily on a steady, rush-heavy opening drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown run into the left corner of the end zone by junior running back Bradley Woldt.
Later, Homestead junior Ben Price put the Highlanders up 10-0 early in the second when he connected on a 37-yard field goal.
“I think that’s the longest one I’ve hit,” Price said. “I didn’t really do anything different. Just kick it. The wind didn’t hurt.”
On Germantown’s ensuing possession, Homestead sophomore Emory Weeden intercepted Collin Sathe after recognizing a route his coaches prepped him for all week.
“That was a play we practice all the time,” Weeden said. “I had my eyes on the third receiver, I saw him coming, and the coaches always put it on me, you have to watch this guy, and if he crosses over, you have to take him. I took that to heart, and I was in the right spot when I had to be.”
The Highlanders took over deep in Germantown territory and appeared headed for an early blowout, but the Warhawks defense turned Homestead back on downs at the 10-yard line.
With the first half coming to a close, Germantown ran its 2-minute offense and looked to get on the scoreboard with at least three points until Weeden showed up again.
On third down with 25 seconds left at the Homestead 17-yard line, Weeden intercepted Sathe again over the middle.
“That one kind of fell right into my lap,” he said. “I had good position and it was overthrown just a little bit.”
In the second half, Homestead’s defense created more separation when junior Mike Bruner blocked a punt on 4th and 2 at the Germantown 28. Homestead then converted a 3rd and 13 and a 4th and 2 before Woldt added his second touchdown from four yards out.
“I can’t say enough about the defensive effort,” Keel said. “Two interceptions shut down probably their two best drives of the half. The coaching staff did an outstanding job scouting this week. The guys knew certain things to look for.”
It was déjà vu on the next drive when Homestead senior John Erpenbeck blocked another punt, and Woldt added a score from two yards out for a 24-0 Homestead lead.
Bad got worse for Germantown when Homestead recovered a fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter. Homestead took over, and faced with a 4th and 2 at the 9-yard line, it opted for the knockout punch rather than attempt a field goal into a fierce wind.
Woldt not only converted the first down, but he knocked the Warhawks out with his fourth touchdown run to go with 141 yards on 26 carries. True to form, Homestead senior quarterback Eric Zoeller threw just one pass, but did his damage on the ground with 108 yards on 22 rushes.
Germantown’s do-it-all running back/linebacker Austin Mozdzen avoided the shutout with a 1-yard score in the closing minutes – the only points Homestead has allowed in the playoffs. Mozdzen finished with 74 yards on 15 carries.
“It’s not what we were hoping for,” Germantown head coach Jake Davis said. “Homestead’s a great program. But I’m proud of these guys. Nobody on this team quit when a lot of teams would have a few weeks ago. They kept fighting.”
The Highlanders beat Whitefish Bay on Oct. 7, 29-12. Impressively, that is Homestead’s closest game during its current 10-game winning streak after an opening-week loss to Arrowhead.
“Whitefish Bay is a tremendous program,” Keel said. “They’re extremely aggressive, they come ready to play, and they will be ready for us.”