Grafton strides to consecutive playoff berth No. 5

By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

 

The defense did what it does, Tommy Lutz and the offensive line turned it up a notch and a young quarterback proved he may be a rising star for the Grafton High School football team last Friday in qualifying for the playoffs for the fifth straight season under coach Jim Norris.

The Hawks spoiled Shorewood/Messmer’s homecoming with a 39-6 victory.

It was 25-0 at halftime. The Hawks gave up a touchdown in the fourth quarter, making it the third straight game of allowing seven or fewer points.

Middle linebacker Ben Birch led the team with eight tackles. Linebacker Dalton Reindl had five, including a sack. Linebacker Jackson Heinle had four tackles and two sacks. Carter Holmes, Aidan West and Josh Lee-O’Bryant each had four tackles. Nineteen Hawks registered at least one.

“Ben Birch in the middle continued to be that heartbeat of the defense making sure all our guys are in the right position,” Norris said.

“They continue to do a fantastic job. It’s great to be able to get guys in who don’t get a ton of reps on Friday nights, to see things at game speed and build that depth within our team.”

Sophomore Brady Hilgart went 9-for-11 passing for 98 yards and two scores. Senior starter Vince Cameranesi completed one pass for two yards but mostly played cornerback and made three tackles.

“He’s one of our best corners. They had a couple of good receivers who on film showed the ability to stretch the field,” Norris said.

“Hats off to Vinny for taking that role. He’s a big fan of Brady and seeing Brady have success.”

Both players excelled in their positions, Norris said.

So did the offensive line blocking for Lutz. The sophomore has been the feature back since 2021 Woodland Conference Back of the Year Chase Norton injured his arm on Sept. 2, and last Friday Lutz ran for 168 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

“He continues to get better every week. You can see his vision improving,” Norris said.

The Hawks’ running game started the season slowly, but has come on the past two weeks, totaling 446 yards on 79 carries for a 5.6-yards-per-rush average.

For the line, led by Lee-O’Bryant, “It just came down to those guys getting frustrated enough and figuring it out up front and mentally get it done,” Norris said.

Other running backs helped the Hawks reach 251 yards on the ground last Friday. Jeremy Dickerson added 59 yards and a score on six carries, and O’Neil Wright ran seven times for 36 yards.

Jaedyn Tiegs caught five balls for 45 yards and returned a punt for a touchdown.

The Hawks are 4-0 in the Woodland Conference and are again going to the postseason.

“It’s a great accomplishment and testament to the program and culture we have in place. Guys continue to buy into it,” Norris said.

The Hawks’ coaching staff, he said, has barely changed since 2020, and “the  administration supports us and allows us the resources we need.”

Before Norris arrived, the Hawks hadn’t qualified for the playoffs since 1997 and hadn’t won a postseason game since 1995. Now, they’ve won two playoff games in the past four years.

“We’re just getting started,” Norris said.

Conference title hopes are alive and well after Wisconsin Lutheran handed Greendale its first Woodland loss last Friday. Grafton is on top at 4-0, followed by Wisconsin Lutheran and Greendale, each at 3-1. The Hawks beat Wisconsin Lutheran on Sept. 2 and host Greendale on Oct. 14.

The rest of the standings are: Greenfield, 2-2; Shorewood/Messmer, 2-2; South Milwaukee, 1-3; Whitnall, 1-3; and Cudahy, 0-4.

Grafton, 5-1 overall, plays at Cudahy for its homecoming game this Friday before the Hawks’ homecoming game against South Milwaukee on Oct. 7.

Norris said his team won’t get caught looking ahead.

“We’re definitely focused on Cudahy, definitely focused on what we need to do to be prepared for this week,” he said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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