Homecoming win earns Grafton share of title

Black Hawks could win Woodland Conference outright by beating defending league champion Greendale
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Grafton High School football coach Jim Norris said he likes to build depth at all positions as the season progresses, and it’s safe to say the Black Hawks have exited the shallow end of the pool after last Friday’s 49-20 toppling of South Milwaukee.

Plenty of players take positive homecoming game memories from this year’s game. Ten Hawks made at least one catch, three completed at least one pass, seven had at least one rush and 22 made at least one tackle.

The win sealed a share of the Woodland Conference title, setting up an intriguing match-up in the final regular season game. Defending Woodland champion Greendale, which handed Grafton its only league loss last season, comes to town on Friday.

“Grafton hasn’t been a part of a conference championship since 1995. It’s important for kids to hear how important this game is and important to hear the support they have behind them,” Norris said.

Against South Milwaukee, senior quarterback Vince Cameranesi, who has been sharing time with rising star sophomore Brady Hilgart, showed his prowess on the defensive side of the ball, leaping to make an interception on a deep pass on the first possession of the game. It was his third pick of the season.

After runs by Tommy Lutz, passes to Mason and Gavin Lempke and Ben Dobberfuhl, Cameranesi finished the drive with an eight-yard run up the middle, then hit Jackson Schultz in the corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion.

Ben Birch and Dalton Reindl stuffed a Rockets’ run on fourth and seven, and the Hawks went to work again.

This time, Chase Norton, last season’s Woodland Conference Back of the Year, got his first carries since dislocating his elbow on Sept. 2. A mix of passes and runs concluded with Cameranesi finding Jackson Heinle for a six-yard score.

The Rockets answered with a 62-yard touchdown drive capped by a 15-yard pass, but the Hawks answered with 21 straight points to take a 36-6 halftime lead.

Mason Lempke sped down the left sideline for a 50-yard kickoff return, and Hilgart later found an open Jaeden Tiegs down the middle for a 33-yard score.

After forcing a punt, Hilgart hit Lutz for a 26-yard screen pass and later found Dobberfuhl all alone on the left sideline for a 22-yard score with 50.3 seconds left in the half.

On the ensuing possession, Heinle forced a fumble at midfield, and defensive back Garrett Bonk scooped it up at Grafton’s 48-yard line and returned it to the Rockets’ 9-yard line with 31.5 seconds left.

Hilgart threw a backward pass across the field to lineman Clayton Wiziarde, who dropped the ball, then picked it up and trotted into the end zone for a 10-yard score.

In the third quarter, Norton scored on a five-yard run. He was met at the goal line by a couple of Rockets but pushed his way into the end zone.

Then the Rockets started to move the ball, but Reindl stayed in the hip pocket of a receiver, essentially running the pass route with him, and picked off a ball at Grafton’s 35-yard line.

Freshman O’Neil Wright burst up the middle untouched for 51 yards, and later finished the drive with a five-yard score.

The extra point made it 49-6.

Lutz, who is fourth in the conference in rushing yards with 588, finished with 10 carries for 105 yards. Wright ran five times for 77 yards and a score behind backup linemen — three freshmen and two sophomores — against the Rockets’ starters.

Norton ran four times for 22 yards and a touchdown. Norris was happy to get his senior star some carries and a touchdown in the homecoming game as Norton slowly works back into the fold.

“For him it’s a mental boost getting back. He has worked his butt off. He didn’t miss a day of practice or rehab. It shows you what type of kid he is,” Norris said.

Dobberfuhl had four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Tiegs caught two balls for 42 yards, and Lempke, a captain who Norris said cares more about team success than his own stats, caught three balls for 37 yards.

Cameranesi went 8-for-10 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown. Hilgart went 5-for-6 for 92 yards and three scores.

“It’s a good problem to have. We have a ton of dynamic players. For an offensive coaching staff, we’ve got to make a lot of tough decisions every week,” Norris said.

Bonk had six tackles, and Kian Elliott and Birch each had five. The defense twice picked off Adam Finn, who came into the game as the second-leading passer in the conference with 1,277 yards, and held the Rockets’ offense in check.

Norris said he loved the play of Cameranesi at corner, and Max Aria at the other cornerback spot is “Mr. Consistent” and “rock solid with his assignments in coverage.”

The Hawks, 7-1 overall, are an 85-yard fumble return for a touchdown in a 22-21 loss to Port Washington away from being undefeated.

Greendale comes in Friday with the league’s top passer in Blake Kogelmann with 1,433 yards with 13 touchdowns and five picks, along with the second-leading rusher in Jamon Murray with 94 carries for 750 yards and 12 scores.

“Greendale is a fantastic team and they have a fantastic tradition. We’re up for the challenge and we’re excited for it,” Norris 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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