If the Brookfield East Spartans hoped to fly under anyone’s radar this season, they can forget about it now.
The Spartans officially became one of the area’s top teams to watch Friday night after opening the season by going on the road and demolishing perennial powerhouse Waukesha West, 29-0.
“I thought it was going to be a slugfest, and in many respects, it was,” Brookfield East head coach Tom Swittel said. “We just kept pounding away and grinding, and I think we were a little bit stronger and faster and probably in a little bit better shape, and that may have had something to do with it. I’ve never seen a perfect football game, and I’ve never seen an individual play a perfect game, but we did play well tonight, that’s for certain.”
The Spartans impressive defensive performance was led by senior standout defensive end Alec James. James notched three sacks and was a constant presence in the backfield. When he wasn’t shutting down the Wolverines’ offense, he was the power back for Brookfield’s running game. James’ thunderous 30-yard run in the second quarter set up the Spartans’ first touchdown. The drive was completed with a 10-yard touchdown pass on a beautiful jump ball from Zach Damico, who hit Brian Smith in the back corner of the endzone on third down.
“I think a lot of people thought we couldn’t beat them,” James said. “Not to be arrogant, but we have confidence in ourselves and everyone on this team knew we could beat them. It’s a really good win, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the playoffs, so celebrate tonight and tomorrow it’s about moving on to the next one.”
James, who earlier this month committed to play at Wisconsin next fall and drew interest from Michigan State and Clemson, among others, said knowing his future plans helped put his mind at ease.
“I went into minicamp not committed, and I was a little worried about getting injured and where I would go,” he said. “So when I committed, it just felt like a huge weight off my shoulders, and I could focus even more.”
As impressive as James was, he didn’t surprise his coach, who’s grown accustomed to such performances.
“What I can say about Alec James is that he’s the best football player in the state of Wisconsin, bar none,” Swittel said. “He is incredible, and we’re just lucky to have him.”
Spartans senior running back Zach Schober also caused his fair share of headaches for West’s defense. Schober’s 16-yard run in the second quarter put the Spartans up 14-0 going into the half. Schober finished with 73 yards on eight carries.
Damico added a 37-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Kyle Wirtz iced the outcome with a 6-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
Waukesha West head coach Steve Rux said his team might have more growing pains than in years past. It was a trying night for the Wolverines, who lost two-way starter Dylan Chmura early in the first quarter to an injury. It was Chmura’s first game since his sophomore season after sitting out last year with a torn ACL.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we learn from it and make sure we’re better the next time we come out,” Rux said. "It’s not like some of our teams from the past; this is the 2012 team, we’ve got a lot of young players who’ve got to step up and play varsity football. I thought we were up against a very good football team. For a lot of guys it was their first experience out here on a Friday night. I think we’ve got to be in better condition, but I’ve got to hand it to Brookfield East. That’s a fine team and they’ve got some great speed.”
The Wolverines will try to rebound next week against visiting Classic 8 foe Mukwonago.
“Our guys have good character; they’ll be able to bounce back from it,” Rux said. “Mukwonago’s a tough team and we’ll have our hands full.”
Meanwhile, Swittel said he wasn’t worried about his group being overconfident for next week’s Greater Metro Conference opener against visiting West Allis Central.
“I’m harder on them after a win than I am after a loss,” he said. “I guarantee you I’m not going to let there be any overconfidence.”