Muskego Hitmen keep football going in summer
Greenfield, West Allis represented on semi-pro team
Football fans who just can't wait until August or September to see more action have a viable alternative available this summer.
The Muskego Hitmen are a semi-pro football team co-owned by Mike Raetz of Greenfield and featuring players from West Allis and Greenfield on their 55-man roster.
The Hitmen play every Saturday evening starting July 13.
The first three games will be at the Muskego High School football field, or Inpro Stadium, at 7 p.m. The fourth, on Aug. 3, will be at the Milwaukee Sports Complex on Ryan Road in Franklin; then, the Hitmen will hit the road for their final four games of the season.
They are joining the Mid-States Football League this season after spending the past 10 years in the Iron Man League. The Mid-States, with 20 teams in two conferences, is considered a tougher, deeper league.
"There are more competitive teams," Hitmen head coach Jason Blawat said. "In the Iron Man, the top teams were good, but then there was a dropoff. There were some games you could just chalk up as victories. In this league, the schedule is tougher from top to bottom."
The Hitmen have been successful in their 10-year history, appearing in the Iron Man championship game in 2003, 2004 and 2007 and claiming the crown in 2004. Muskego made the playoffs every season in the Iron Man League.
Blawat is confident that his team will continue to provide a quality product.
"Some people know about us already," he said, "but we are looking to expand to the more casual fan, the person who just wants to see a football game on a Saturday night in summer. We play a good quality brand of football, and we have a dance team as well for additional entertainment."
Blawat said the players have a wide range of football experience and aspirations.
"We have some players just out of high school who are looking to continue playing football," he said. "We have many who played college ball, finished their careers and want to keep going. We have some who are looking to another level, some who have been invited to NFL regional combines.
"We have guys who want to use this experience as a catapult to get to perhaps an NFL shot, or maybe to Arena Football."
Mostly NFL rules
The games themselves resemble those of the NFL, with four quarters of 15 minutes each. The Mid-States League sticks to many of the NFL rules.
Blawat said semi-pro football offers a variety of games, some dominated by offense, some by defense, just like any other football league.
"The game is just as physical," he said. "Speed would be the main difference (compared to higher levels). We maybe don't have as much overall team speed, but we have individuals with plenty of speed.
"There is hard hitting, and there are injuries. We have already lost two players to anterior cruciate ligament injuries this season in workouts."
He said while NFL players are paid to play, semi-pro players pay to play, with a team fee of $150 for each person. That fee is waived if the person brings in a sponsor, however.
"This is a passionate hobby," the coach said. "It is recreational for some guys, just fun. With the time invested, and the team atmosphere, we have kind of a brotherhood. We become like a family."
He said in the preseason, the team practices twice a week for 2 1/2 hours on Sundays and two hours on Wednesday nights.
Once the season begins, practices are held for about two-to-three hours on Wednesday nights, with games on Saturday nights.
Winning in exhibition
The Hitmen are off to a strong start, defeating the Milwaukee Venom 36-0 in an exhibition contest Saturday.
Jo Jo Moore and Rob Lee both scored running touchdowns, while quarterback Rob Evans ran for a score and threw to Jon McCray for another. DeMarcus Mitchell tallied on an interception return and Muskego lost two other punt return scores to penalties.
The Hitmen open the regular season at 7 p.m. July 13 against the Monona Warriors at Muskego High School.
Here is this year's schedule for the semi-pro Muskego Hitmen:
July 13: Monona Warriors
July 20: Madison Mustangs
July 27: Lake Geneva Generals
Aug. 3: Racine Threat
Aug. 10: at Roscoe Rush
Aug. 17: at Shorewood Monarchs
Aug. 24: at Wauwatosa Spartans
Sept. 7: at Racine Raiders
All games begin at 7 p.m.
Home games on July 13-27 will be played at Muskego High School; the Aug. 3 game will be at the Milwaukee Sports Complex on Ryan Road in Franklin.
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