Let’s look back: Less than two weeks ago, a sensational high school football game between Greendale and Wauwatosa West ended in dramatic fashion.
It was Oct. 5 in Greendale. As the game progressed, the Tosa West Trojans controlled the tempo. Penalties and turnovers slowed Greendale.
In the fourth quarter, Greendale came alive. They staged two impressive scoring drives. With under a minute on the clock they pushed the game into overtime with the score knotted 30-30. Tosa West scored on their first OT possession, and then picked off a pass to end Greendale’s threat, winning 37-30.
If you missed it, or if you wanted to see a rematch – it’s on! Wauwatosa West, seeded fourth, and Greendale, seeded fifth, will play in the WIAA state playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday. This time, the Trojans will be on their home field at Wauwatosa West High School.
Because of their recent clash, this is one of the most anticipated games of the playoff weekend.
Since that game, both teams have won again. Greendale handily defeated Brown Deer to end 5-3. Tosa West’s Homecoming victory last week over Greenfield cemented a memorable regular season as they finished 7-1.
Keys to success in this rematch are the same that Tosa West has used all season: a high-octane running game, ball security, special teams and the inspired leadership of a great senior class.
Different styles, similar results
But Greendale showed all season that it can move the ball, too. In fact, Greendale and Tosa West put up nearly the same total offensive yardage in the regular season – just over 3,000 yards each, with a slight edge to Greendale.
In Tosa's case, gains on the ground (2,273 yards) were three times what they put up in the air (748). But if the passing game was limited, it was effective. With opponents always looking out for the run, quarterback Jared Morzinski was able to finish with a 108.2 passer rating, tossing for eight touchdowns against just four interceptions.
Greendale, on the other hand, used a balanced run-pass attack, posting 1,535 yards in the air and 1,647 on the ground. Josh Ringelberg was also effective at quarterback, ending with a 92.3 rating. He passed for 11 touchdowns but was picked eight times.
Both teams' pass defenses put up solid numbers, but Greendale was superb, holding opponents to just a 41.7 percent attempt-completion ratio and only 89 yards per game on average. They also had an outstanding 11 picks.
Wauwatosa had the edge on the ground, tearing up the turf on offense for 284 yards per game and giving up only 153.5 on the other side of the ball. Greendale's Panthers were no slouches, though, rushing for 206 yards a game and giving up 160.
In all, as they showed in their OT battle two weeks ago, these are overall two very evenly matched teams despite using different offensive plans.
The only real difference, and the only one that counts in the end, is that Wauwatosa simply scored more points this season, by holding onto the ball and keeping drives alive. Greendale had more turnovers and less success pushing the ball over the goal line.
One more statistical similarity these teams share, possibly to their coaches' dismay – both scored most of their points in the first half and gave up the most in the fourth quarter.
The key, then, for Tosa West to beat Greendale again – hopefully without having to go to overtime to do it – is pretty simple. Without changing the game plan that's worked so well all season, the Trojans need to score early and often but then keep the Panthers out of the end zone late.
The West Trojans-Greendale Panthers playoff matchup will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable Channel 32.