Muskego needed to make a statement as the new kid on the block in the powerhouse Classic 8 football conference. Facing a daunting schedule that pitted the Warriors against the league’s annual powers to open the 2012 season, Muskego entered Friday’s game with losses to Arrowhead and Mukwonago and looked at Waukesha West without the services of star running back David Kucharski.
Down 28-27 with just 3:08 left in the game, the Warriors quickly turned gloom into a startling 41-28 victory.
“The kids really responded,” said a jubilant coach Ken Krause. “We are a team, not a one man show. Our theme is unity, family and brotherhood and we’ve faced adversity all season. We don’t make excuses – we didn’t have a returning starter from last season and have four kids out for the season with injuries. So many players have stepped up … I had 22 fresh starters tonight. This is one of the top three wins since I came to Muskego.
"I am proud of the kids and coaches. We are getting better playing great teams – next week it’s Catholic Memorial.”
Neither team showed much strength on defense, as ground games ate up yardage through the first half and into the third quarter. With Kucharski, the Warriors 6-4, 210-pund running back held out of the starting lineup by Krause, junior Peter Roy truly rose to the occasion. Carrying the ball 20 times in the first half for 79 yards, he led his team to a 20-15 intermission lead. He scored touchdowns on runs of fou yards, 20 yards and one yard.
West’s Bronson Semerau led the Wolverines ground attack with 9 carries for 110 yards in the half, lugging the ball all six times on his team’s first possession that ended in his 7-yard touchdown just 2:35 into the game.
West took a 15-14 lead on Ar’Breon Dunson-Lilley’s 8-yard run after a 46-yard completion from Austin Della to Dylan Chmura. The two teams collectively ran 48 times for 361 yards in the half.
Waukesha West missed a chance to score when Semerau spun his way to the 1-yard line after a 20-yard gain and then fumbled into the end zone, where Turner Kehoe fell on the loose ball. After forcing the game’s first punt, the Wolverines again marched towards a score, but on the 10th play of the drive, Della’s pass was picked off by Tyler Thomka moments before the half expired.
Receiving the second half kick, Muskego started on the 20 and in 10 plays, covered the 80 yards to go ahead 27 -15. Roy, doing double duty as fullback and quarterback, found an open Kehoe for an 18-yard TD pass, and Kucharski added the PAT kick.
Waukesha wasted no time in answering. Using Dunson-Lilly’s 44-yard kick return to spark the offense, the Wolverines got the score on a 3-yard keeper by Della and a PAT kick from Steve Drida to close to 27-22 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
West’s defense then stiffened, and after a Warriors punt, the Wolverines needed just two plays to cover 62 yards and take a 28-27 lead. A second, third and fourth effort run by Dunson-Lilley for 17 yards was followed by a 45-yard burst up the middle by Semerau for the score.
The teams traded possessions. Starting at its own 30, West began with a penalty and an incomplete pass, and then quickly began to move towards victory. Semerau gained 26, then added another 12 to give him a total of 206 yards on 21 carries. Five plays later with 3:08 left, Waukesha coughed up the ball on second down, and the Muskego march began.
A Roy to Jon Kudronowicz toss gained 13 with 2:38 to go. Roy picked up four on a keeper, was 1 for 2 passing and scampered another 15 with 1:43 to go. He found Kehoe for a 15-yard gain through the air, then a fresh Kucharski lugged defenders and broke tackles for 18 yards. Another pass to Kehoe set up 1st-and-goal at the 3, and Kucharski punched in from there.
Roy ran in the 2-point conversion for a 35-28 lead with 52 seconds to play. After the kick, Della’s pass was picked off by Thomka, who returned the theft 39 yards for the final points of the game.
“I had a rough week of practice,” said Kucharski regarding his being held out of the first half. "Coach made a statement not to start me, and I told the team we have great leaders and we could win without me. I worked my way in the second half – the O line stepped up – we have injuries and we had to rotate guys. This team has very much heart.”
Added Roy, “We needed this one. I needed to step up wherever I was needed. The line blocked its heart out and made it easy for me. I rode the momentum. We had a strong second half as a team – we can finish."
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