Rough ending dims Bay's football season
Lack of depth, key injuries leave team with 5-5 record
Whitefish Bay — What was an extremely promising season for the Whitefish Bay football team turned on two pivotal late-season losses and because of them, the Blue Dukes were not quite the same in finishing at 5-5.
"We played two tough teams in a row (North Shore champ Homestead and runner-up Cedarburg)," said Blue Dukes coach Jim Tietjen. "We put a lot into the Homestead game (a tough 7-0 loss) that we just didn't have much left for a physical Cedarburg team (a 51-32 decision)."
Those two losses fed right into season-closing losses to Milwaukee Lutheran and New Berlin Eisenhower (first round of playoffs) where in each case the Blue Dukes had opportunities in the closing seconds but could not make the big play.
"Some of our playmakers were nicked up," Tietjen said. "(All-State and NOW All-Suburban defensive back) Brian (Kroll), Viktor (Gottlieb), Gabe (Aleman) and Garrett (Demuth) all had physical issues. It really caught up with us at the end."
That's because of the small, talent-dependent nature of the Blue Dukes program, which had fewer than 45 players sophomore through senior this season. That limitation and injury problems left the Blue Dukes with the ability to practice hard only twice a week by the end of the season, Tietjen said.
The Blue Dukes had another All-State/All-Suburban selection in Michigan-bound punter Will Hagerup.
A key to Bay's success, which included a 5-1 start, was the Kroll and Gottlieb led defense that allowed only 28 points through the first six games of the season and the development of junior quarterback Cal Ehrke who filled the big shoes of graduated Jimmy Sherburne admirably. Kroll, Deontaye Brown and Justin Alt led the running game for the Blue Dukes. And Ehrke had a fine "go-to" target in end Paul Davis in the passing game.
"It actually was a great season and that was because of our senior leadership," Tietjen said. "They were a fun group to be around." Kroll, Gottlieb and Ehrke were co-captains.
Young players replenish talent pool
The short-handed junior varsity was only 3-5, but the freshmen team was 7-0 and the eighth-grade Blue Dukes AAYFL team made the program's championship game before losing to New Berlin West.
Seniors included Hagerup, Davis, Dan Tutino, Aleman, Kroll, Juan Bartkowski-Gomez, Joe Lucey, Elric Erving, Jake Levings, Gottlieb, Ryan Grych, and Tim Haberli.
- Steven L. Tietz
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