The Cedarburg football team did its best to get the attention of archrival and North Shore Conference champion Homestead on Oct. 14 in the regular-season closer for both teams.
The Bulldogs executed well, including pulling off a fourth-and-25 pass for a touchdown and finding themselves up, 12-0, at the quarter.
But then the defending D2 state champion Highlanders woke up and slammed the door on any thoughts of an upset, as they scored 26 unanswered points in the second quarter and cruised to a 47-18 victory.
"Cedarburg did some very good things early," said Homestead coach Dave Keel, "but then we were able to get our offense rolling. Coach (Drake) Zortman did a great job getting the offense in gear, and our quarterback (Eric Zoeller) had a very, very good game, as did Brad (running back Woldt). The offensive line was also up to the challenge, too."
The win completed an undefeated run through the North Shore for the Highlanders (7-0) as they finished the regular season at 8-1 overall. They earned the top seed in the D2 state playoffs southeast bracket and will host Milwaukee Bradley Tech in a Level 1 tilt at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21. If they win that game, they will host the winner of Shorewood/Messmer and Germantown on Friday, Oct. 28.
Keel was pleased with the outcome of the seeding meeting for his team's eight-team playoff grouping.
"It was a little different than usual," he said. "We were the only undefeated (in conference) champion in the group, and so teams got moved around a bit."
Meanwhile, Cedarburg (4-5) was shuttled into the D2 northeast bracket, where the sixth-seeded Bulldogs will visit Brookfield East at 7 p.m. Oct. 21. If they win that game, they will head off to play the winner of seventh-seeded Menomonee Falls and second-seeded Menasha on Oct. 28.
Both teams will take lessons from the Oct. 14 contest. The Bulldogs, as noted, went up on a 2-yard run by quarterback Jack Meyer and then converted that fourth-and-25 situation when Meyer hit Spencer Brattebo on a 33-yard pass for a score to make it 12-0, still in the first.
But the Highlanders found their way and rolled the second quarter. Woldt (10 carries for 89 yards) raced in from 10 yards out to get things going. Then Zoeller, who had a career night with 14 carries for 220 yards, bolted 80 yards to put Homestead up for good at 13-12. He then hit Matt Hartlieb on a 37-yard pass for a TD. Woldt finished the half with a 1-yard plunge for score as Homestead went up 26-12 at the break.
Zoeller then hit Woldt from 29 yards out for his second TD pass of the game in the third.
Cedarburg tried to get back into the game early in the fourth on a Meyer-to-Brattebo 15-yard connection to make it 33-18, but Homestead shut the door as Jared Schneider raced in from 69 yards and Willie Garrison turned in a 19-yard dash to the end zone to complete the scoring.
All told, the Highlanders gained 523 total yards, including 417 yards rushing on 32 carries (13 yards a try). Schneider finished with 72 yards on two rushes. Zoeller completed seven of 14 passes for 106 yards, as Hartlieb grabbed four of them for 73 yards and Woldt claimed the other two for 33 yards.
Meyer had a rough night, completing just eight of 22 attempts for 116 yards, including two scores and a TD. Patrick Hoffman rushed for 106 yards on 27 tries for the Bulldogs.
A number of Highlanders were also praised for their defensive work, including Michael Fehrenbach (four solo tackles and 13 total tackles), Andy Scheer (eight solos and 11 total tackles), John Erpenbeck (eight solos and nine total), Jacob Miller (seven solos and 10 total tackles) and Mike Bruner (eight tackles, three for loss, two knocked down passes, a forced and recovered fumble and a blocked punt and extra-point attempt).
Keel said the team is ready for the playoffs.
"The kids are excited and ready to go," he said. "We really like where they're at right now."