After his team put in a workmanlike effort of dismantling Menomonee Falls on Friday, 35-0, thereby clinching a share of the Greater Metro Conference title, a humble Lancers coach Jamie Meulemans pointed to the south toward the team's practice fields.
"There, that's where the work was done," he said, straining to be heard over the blare of the PA system playing Queen's "We Are the Champions". "These kids work so hard, coming in at 7 a.m. winter and summer for speed and agility and conditioning drills.
"I told them that it's not the games that make you champions, but the things you do on the practice field and in life. These kids have clearly taken that to heart."
And then when asked if he learned that piece of philosophy from his old mentor at Germantown, semi-retired coach Phil Datka, who came on to help Meulemans on the Lancers staff this fall. Meulemans said: "Absolutely".
With the win, the Lancers improved to 6-1 in Greater Metro play and 7-2 overall, earning a piece of the title pie with Marquette (6-1, 7-2) and Sussex Hamilton (6-1, 8-1), both of whom were also winners this night. It is the fourth GMC title that the Lancers have either won outright or shared since 2002.
"To do that is just outstanding in this conference," said Meulemans, who gave a hearty dose of credit to his coordinators on offense (Joe Koch) and on defense (Sal Logue).
"Our line did a pretty good job tonight," said Koch. "Our line coach Bob Hellendrung has done a great job, and we were down a couple of guys tonight (due to injury), but some young guys (two sophomores), did a great job up front. They made the backs' jobs a lot easier."
So did the short fields created by the Central defense and a steady, hard breeze that blew in the Indians' (3-4, 5-4) faces throughout the first and third quarters.
The Lancers had to go only 41, 39, 31, 34 yards on first half scoring drives as they built a 28-0 lead. DeMario Harris had scoring runs of six, three, and one yards in the first half and Craig Jordan added a six-yard pop of his own.
"We couldn't get out of our own end of the field, and then they started running downhill on us in a hurry," said Indians coach John Baker. "We had a hard time stopping them."
The Lancers found particular success by sending the hard-charging Harris plowing through the middle. He put the running clock in order at the 9:21 mark of the third quarter on a one-yard run as the Lancers went 70 yards on eight plays to start the second half.
Harris would finish with 79 yards on 13 carries while Charlie O'Dwyer had 49 yards on six carries. All told, the Lancers rushed for 191 yards on 38 carries, an average of five yards a pop.
On the flip side, Logue's defense adopted a "bend don't break" attitude. It limited Falls to just 21 yards on its first four series before the Indians put on a 65-yard, 10-play drive that reached the Central 3-yard line.
But Justin Johnson of Falls was stoned for one yard on the next play and then quarterback Brett Krause was brought down for a five-yard loss on an option play by Lancers lineman Chikwe Obasih. A third-down pass was incomplete and a 25-yard field goal went wide left.
The Lancers got another stop late in the half when defensive back D.J. Ley intercepted a deep Krause pass. In the second half, a Krause to Matt Christensen TD pass was wiped out by a holding penalty.
The Indians offense was hampered by an injury to top back Johnson, who left before the half and would not return. Krause (eight carries for 69 yards) and Christian Almonte (nine for 56) tried to pick up the slack, but the Lancers would hold Falls to just 204 total yards.
"We're not large, but we are fast, and that works well for us," said Logue of his defense. "We know that Falls has a lot of athletes who can make plays, so we made sure we had 11 guys running to the ball on every play."
Meulemans couldn't be happier with this group and what it has achieved and said he learned something from the disappointing 2010 season.
"We've adopted a get better every week sort of philosophy," he said, "and it's been working for us. Last year, we plateaued early, and I take that upon myself. This year, that hasn't happened."
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