Muskego senior Brady Simkowski had to be patient and wait his turn to be the leader of the Warriors. Friday night, Simkowski showed how good he can be when patient running led to 175 yards and five touchdowns as Muskego downed rival Burlington in a non-conference game at Burlington, 55-7.
“Last year we had a good senior in Luke Przybylka who was an all-area guy, so Brady kind of got caught behind him,” said Muskego coach Ken Krause. “Otherwise, he would have probably started for sure.”
All eyes were on Simkowski but as great as the 5-foot-8 running back was, he opened the door for Burlington (1-1) in the second quarter when he fumbled on the Warriors' 22-yard line.
Trailing 13-0 and with a chance to get back in the game, Burlington just could not find a way to move on the stingy Warriors defense. Burlington quarterback Jayden Essman threw incomplete and was flushed out of the pocket twice, resulting in a loss of yards on both plays. Essman was hurried on fourth down and threw incomplete for a turnover on downs.
“I have to give a lot of credit to our defensive coordinator who has just done a fantastic job with our defense,” said Krause. “Every year our defense has gotten better. We got two, three-year starters at linebacker who really lead the way for us.”
The Demons struggled mightily to move the ball on the Warriors' first string defense. Burlington piled up just 52 total yards in the first half, most coming through the air in their no huddle offense at the end of the first half. Simkowski, meanwhile, totaled 68 yards alone on the team’s first series.
"Muskego came to play and our kids didn't respond very well," said Burlington coach Hans Block. "I thought our kids backed off. In the second half, I thought we played a little bit better. When they put their subs in, our subs were able to move the ball on them in the end.”
The Demons were driving in the final moments of the first half despite trailing, 27-0. A critical facemask penalty pushed the ball to the Warriors 33-yard line with under 15 seconds to play. Essman avoided pressure to fire bullets to his receivers, but each time the receivers dropped the ball. On fourth down, Essman launched a prayer to the end zone that drew a flag. As luck would have it for the Demons, it was offensive pass interference.
“Our defensive line really played well,” said Simkowski. “They are getting better every day and do a great job communicating.”
The Warriors crushed Port Washington in Week 1, and their offense racked up 508 offensive yards on Burlington while just allowing one touchdown which came late in the fourth quarter when much of the teams’ reserves were in.
“We have to take it one game at a time because of conference is phenomenal,” said Krause. “Every team is good, there is no down week.”
Muskego (2-0) had lost its last seven meetings against the former Southeast Conference member and flexed its muscles early, forcing the Demons to punt after three plays that totaled three yards. The Warriors then responded with a 12-play opening drive exclusively on the ground that ended when Simkowski scored on a 3-yard run. Muskego had three plays that eclipsed 10 yards or more including an 18-yard burst from Simkowski on their first play from scrimmage.
Burlington was able to get on the board in the fourth quarter when Ross Canales scored on a three-yard plunge.