With its biggest weapon on the bench after the first drive in the game, the Brown Deer football team was searching for an identity through most of Friday night’s WIAA Division 3 Level 1 playoff game against Kewaskum.
When the Falcons finally found a way to move the ball against a vaunted Indians defense, the clock proved a bigger foe, as Brown Deer’s season ended on a 38-14 defeat at Kewaskum High School.
“(That) took away half our offense,” Brown Deer co-head coach Rob Green said of losing the bell cow of the Falcons running attack, senior running back Najee Williams, “We tried to run inside on them, but they are tough in their front four, and we tried to push out, but without Najee’s speed to get to the edge, it took away half our offense.”
Williams went to the hospital to get his ankle more closely examined to determine if it was a high ankle sprain, or even a fracture, Green said.
Receiving the opening kick, the Falcons (5-5) put together a 15-play drive that ate up 5 minutes, 35 seconds, but yielded no points.
“At Brown Deer, we’re known as athletes, not football players,” Brown Deer senior linebacker Evan Naber said. “(Kewaskum is) a great football team and they are very big. They came in 9-0, and you can tell they don’t lose often. We just had to keep coming, which is what we did in the second half.”
Kewaskum (10-0), the champions of the Eastern Wisconsin Conference and No. 2 seed, seized the opportunity, scoring 26 points before halftime. During that time, the Falcons ran just 10 more plays and committed two turnovers.
This Falcons team would not lay down in the second half behind junior quarterback Jake Schimenz, who completed 22 of 38 passes, including 20 of his last 22, for 257 yards.
“He’s definitely a leader,” Brown Deer senior lineman Malachi Ward said of Schimenz, who repeatedly turned broken plays into big gains by scrambling and making plays. “He’s only a junior, so he’s got one more year left.”
Schimenz worked closely with his two favorite targets, fellow juniors Pietro D’Amato (six catches for 52 yards) and Tray Palmer (seven catches for 103 yards).
“(Tray) puts a lot of pressure on defenses,” Green said. “He’s more of our big-play receiver, where Pietro is our dump-off guy, and he’s a good run-after catch-person. That tandem is pretty awesome.
For the group of 12 seniors, most left the field with tears in their eyes but took some solace in what they have accomplished, reaching the playoffs for the third straight season.
“It showed that we could come out and do it,” Ward said of how the Falcons played in the second half. “We just have to come out and play like that sooner. It’s got to be there from the beginning.”
Added Naber: “I was on varsity my freshman year, and we had a really off year that year. A lot of people started stepping up, and I took notice of when you have seniors step up, that’s when you have really good teams. Our senior classes needed to step up, which we felt we did do. That was a big reason we got in the playoffs.”
Even with Williams on the bench, the Falcons thrived on both sides of the ball in the second half.
“This was a senior class that had little expectations,” Green said. “We started slow but started to build momentum. It was similar to this game. We got a little down but kept fighting in the second half. That’s a true character check for these kids. They’re a great group of seniors and we’re truly going to miss them.”
Kewaskum will host Pewaukee in Level 2 of the Division 3 playoffs next week.
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