West Allis - Brookfield Central is regarded as one of the top football teams in the Greater Metro Conference, but West Allis Hale stayed with the Lancers right into overtime last week.
While the Huskies fell just short in a 21-14 double-overtime defeat on Friday night, it was crystal clear that they are a drastically different team than the one that went 1-6 in the Greater Metro Conference in 2011.
"Be on alert," Brookfield Central head coach Jamie Meulemans said. "It's the Greater Metro Conference. West Allis Hale is a great team, they've got great athletes. Week in and week out, you have to have a sense of urgency in this conference."
Hale head coach Brendan Ehret said, "We talked about it this week that this was a tremendous opportunity for us, and we wanted to make the most of it. We played hard and we played with passion and energy. In the end, Brookfield Central just made more plays than we did."
Repeat of Lancers' blowout?
Early on, it looked like there might be a repeat of last season's 34-14 drubbing, as the Lancers scored in just under two minutes. The initial scoring drive was set up by junior Demario Harris' 54-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.
After that, though, the offenses lagged as the first half continued. The Huskies made it 7-6 on senior Taylor Tomczak's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:13 left in the half but missed the extra point.
Central nearly scored again before the end of the half after a series of more bruising runs from Harris, but a sack on second-and-goal left the Lancers helpless to stop the clock.
Late in the third, Harris rattled off another 43-yard rush to set up a 10-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Riley Richarz.
The Huskies were productive on offense most of the night but had several drives stall due to penalties and dropped passes.
Finally, midway through the fourth quarter, they advanced to the Lancers' 10-yard line. On fourth down from the 9, senior quarterback Nick Sotiros hit Marcel Mundt over the middle on a slant for a score. Running back Corey Stingley converted the two-point attempt to tie the game at 14 with seven minutes to play.
On the Lancers' next possession, they were stopped on fourth-and-1 when Huskies linebacker Jordan Riche stuffed Harris on a dive. The Huskies' offense drove deep into Central territory, but defensive lineman Drew Degner's interception with 27 seconds left forced overtime.
The Lancers' defense stopped the Huskies in the first overtime possession, but Central fumbled on its own possession. In the second overtime, Central senior Marcus Crum scored on a play-action run to the left, giving Central a 21-14 lead.
"I was hoping they'd call my number," Crum said. "It just opened up for us. Great blocking from our line, great blocking from the slot, and that was it."
Meulemans said it was Harris' 25-carry, 225-yard performance that made the game-winning play possible.
"We thought we could get to the edge there," he said. "They were playing really heavy on Demario inside, so we ran a little play action and then went outside."
Missed plays in overtime
The game appeared headed for a third overtime when Sotiros hit Dylan Gilbert in stride on a slant over the middle on third down, but Gilbert dropped the ball. A screen on fourth down went nowhere, and the Lancers' bench rejoiced.
"We had too many mental and physical mistakes," Ehret said. "Against a good Brookfield Central team, you can't do that."
This week, Hale (1-1) gets another chance to show it belongs when it welcomes Marquette, which is off to an uncharacteristic 0-2 start after losing to Sussex Hamilton, 42-3, last week. The game is at 7 p.m. Sept. 7 at the West Allis Athletic Field.
"I am not big on moral victories," Ehret said, "but we have a lot to take away from (the Central) game. In recent years, we haven't been in that many games late. We are moving in the right direction."
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