Greenfield stumbled early in its season opener at Waukesha North, and by the time the offense found a rhythm, it was too late. The Northstars handed Greenfield its fourth consecutive season-opening loss with a 27-10 victory Friday night.
Hustlin’ Hawks head coach Scott Otto said it wasn’t the start he hoped for.
“We came out flat,” Otto said. “You have to give credit to Waukesha North. They played a great game and for two-and-a-half quarters, they wanted it more. They came out tonight and kicked us in the mouth.”
North scored on the game’s first possession on a nine-play, 48-yard drive capped by senior C.J. Blackburn’s 7-yard touchdown run. Blackburn, pulling double duty at wide receiver and running back, also scored the second of North’s four touchdowns on a 25-yard scamper to the left with 4:57 left in the first half.
“It was a counter, so I knew if I went right, the defense would flow right,” Blackburn said. “I made the cut, broke a couple of tackles and just saw green.”
Blackburn had a game-high 110 yards on 15 carries.
North senior running backs Kermit Hernandez and Jake Thein added third-quarter rushing touchdowns of 5 and 8 yards, respectively, to build a 27-0 lead. Greenfield got on the board midway through the fourth quarter on senior running back Andy Lucas’ 1-yard touchdown run, and senior kicker Alex Bosl connected on a late 32-yard field goal.
Greenfield recovered an onside kick but turned the ball over on downs. North took over and ran out the clock, giving head coach Carey Venne his first win as the Hall of Fame coach tries to rebuild a program that has struggled in recent years.
“Greenfield has a good team,” Venne said. “I expected a tough battle, but I’m happy with the result. I think we showed that we have some good team speed and a lot of kids who can carry the ball. But Greenfield is going to play better this year than they did tonight.”
The Hawks didn’t make it hard for the North offense. North scored 21 of its points off three Greenfield fumbles, and all four of North’s touchdown drives started in Greenfield territory.
“The short field was huge,” Venne said. “I think a lot of tonight was them making mistakes and us capitalizing on them more than it was us being so good.”
While Venne was humble, Blackburn didn’t hesitate to mention the energy the new coach brings to North.
“He’s changed everything,” Blackburn said. “The attitude on this team is different. I think this is an underrated team, and I knew we could be good, but I think we showed how good we can be.”
Greenfield was without senior right tackle and Northern Illinois commit Josh Ruka, who was out with an ACL sprain. Ruka is expected back next week, and Otto said he could have played Friday night, but the staff decided it wasn’t worth the risk.
“When you’re missing a Division I kid like that, it obviously hurts,” Otto said. “But that has nothing to do with what happened tonight. If Josh was in there, and we played like we did tonight, the result would have been the same.”
Otto added the sluggish opening shouldn’t lower expectations for a team expected to compete for a playoff berth.
“This was a test, and we didn’t pass it,” Otto said. “But our kids are fine. Our goals are still in line. This doesn’t affect our ability to win conference; we can still make the playoffs. Championships aren’t won in the first week of the season in nonconference games.”
Otto and the Hawks travel to Pewaukee next week for the second tilt of a three-game road stretch to open the season.