Bay's win over Homestead years in the making
Fans, alumni, players, coaches all did their part
There had been buildups like this for Whitefish Bay home football games with vast stakes on the line before.
And then there have been huge letdowns that usually followed in those games. Germantown sophomore quarterback David Pietrowiak throwing four touchdown passes in the 2000 North Shore Conference championship game blowout loss.
The gut-busting physical battle a year later with Homestead that went the wrong way, 21-10, as Homestead center Jake Davis (now Germantown coach) came off the injured list with a bad shoulder to lead the Highlanders' relentless running attack.
And the Lubar Stadium dedication in 2007 where it went to overtime with Homestead and Bay just couldn't get the stop (or did it? That one will be debated for some time yet).
But all that frustration is now forgotten, all is now forgiven, on the heels of the lovely afterglow that is the Blue Dukes' 14-7 homecoming triumph over previously unbeaten Homestead on Friday, the first win for Bay over the Highlanders in 12 years.
The crowd was huge, the energy was high and the play intense as Bay took a major step toward securing its first league title since 1993. Coach Jim Tietjen talked about the fan support, the great pep rally, the pure raw intensity of the moment.
Even the Homestead fans in attendance played into it, posting a sign on the railing in front of them that said simply, "Evil Empire," referring to the Highlanders 11-year domination of NSC football.
belongs to Bay
And, who knows, Homestead could still knock off Germantown on Thursday and earn a share of yet another NSC crown, but if Bay takes care of business Friday night at Nicolet (2-5), it will be the Blue Dukes who own the title tiebreaker.
Bay Athletic Director John Gustavson knew he was watching history on Friday.
"The atmosphere during homecoming week is always intense," he said. "The student body is always positively involved and this week the kids made great decisions and did the school and community proud."
"But then they got to watch a classic high school football game. It was a crisp fall evening, the leaves were blowing and there was a chill in the air. You couldn't have asked for much more."
No you couldn't.
"I remembered the game my freshmen year with them (the Highlanders)," safety/receiver Jackson Weber said. "It was 7-0 at their place and it came down to a play here or a play there as it did again tonight.
"How could it be otherwise?"
There were other great back stories.
Blue Dukes quarterback Grant Menard, who made play after play this night, did not feel secure in his position coming into this season despite leading Bay to its deepest state playoff run in school history in 2011 (third round). So he engaged a personal trainer, worked with a quarterback coach and turned himself into a physical specimen who could handle the mental and emotional ups and downs of a big game.
That attitude spread to the whole team.
'Take no prisoners' attitude
"When we lost that Germantown game (14-13, in the first league game of the season), it was a sharp wake-up call," Tietjen said. "Now we take no prisoners in practice. One kid gets nicked up and then another one steps up."
They had to this night, as starting defensive lineman Joseph Bell went out with what looked to be an ankle injury at the end of the first half and did not return. But he did not miss the rest of the game, intensely watching the amazing ending while balancing on crutches with his ankle wrapped in ice.
Tietjen, who let a rare blast of exuberant joy come out of him with his never-ending hug-fest at the end, almost fell into pure coach-speak at the start of his official remarks.
"My feelings are, we have one more game against Nicolet …," he said initially. Then he started laughing and enjoying himself, as he should have.
Little kids mixed with past players and parents in congratulating the players on the field afterward.
"This means so much to the young kids who were there," Gustavson said. "To the future football players who were in attendance. They've now seen Bay beat Homestead. Instead of talking about whether or when it will ever happen, they've seen it done.
"And it just helps.
"Also, all those former players out there. Well, like everything else that is good out there, a lot of people have a piece of it. A lot of people played their part in this. They were the ones chipping away, making the games closer and closer with Homestead. A lot went into this. A lot of pride went into it."
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