Football coaches always preach defense, and the Shorewood/Messmer football team lived it against Cudahy in its Woodland Conference opener on Sept. 2, as the Greyhounds notched six interceptions, including a pair each from Lael Thompson and Dominic Fazio, to overpower the Packers, 24-14.
Just for good measure, both Thompson and Fazio also returned picks for touchdowns.
"It's great when the defense scores," said coach Chad Hofmann. "It's hard to lose games when you do something like that. Our defense just made it hard for them to build any momentum at all."
The victory was the second in a row for the Greyhounds as they improved to 2-1 overall. They will have something of a rivalry game when they host South Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9.
"It goes back a few years when we played them in the (state) playoffs," said Hofmann. "The guys put a target on that game, and they can't wait for it."
Messwood lost a tough 7-0 decision to the Rockets last season.
The victory over Cudahy was not as close at looked, as the Greyhounds built a 24-0 lead in the second quarter.
Joe Friedman notched a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter to give the Greyhounds the lead for good. They then took control for good in the space of a 25-second span early in the second quarter. Zoe McDowell, who finished with 127 yards on 23 carries, completed a solid drive with a 1-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to make it 10-0.
Then just 25 seconds later, Thompson, a 5-11, 189-pound outside linebacker, snagged a pass in the flat, broke one tackle and sailed into the end zone from 50 yards out for a TD to make it 17-0.
Then just 2:30 later, Fazio, a 6-1, 152-pound cornerback, grabbed a tipped pass out of the air, hit the sideline and roared in from 60 yards out for a 24-0 advantage.
After that, Hofmann said the Greyhounds used a strong ground game (47 carries for 251 yards, including 115 yards on 19 tries for Friedman) and the defense to control the game. The Packers got a touchdown in the second quarter to close the gap to 24-7 and then added another midway through the third period to make it 24-14 but did not seriously threaten after that.
"The defense forced them into too many turnovers to really threaten us after that," Hofmann said. "We really made it hard for them to build momentum."
Thompson finished with nine total tackles and Fazio six. Kendrick McGahee had eight.
Aside from Fazio and Thompson, Hofmann thought defensive end Eli Rivera (five tackles) had a great game flying around the field and noted quarterback Friedman had a good game making reads off the option.
Hofmann is optimistic as the Greyhounds head into the meat of their schedule..
"We're feeling good about ourselves riding into South Milwaukee," he said.