Shorewood/Messmer football coach Chad Hofmann remembers the day three years ago clearly, when he was an assistant to Drake Zortman, and the Greyhounds rode out to Jackson, beat Living Word Lutheran and clinched the Midwest Classic Conference title, the team's first league championship in what seemed like centuries.
A short time later, the program made a tactical decision, moved up in terms of level of competition by rejoining the Woodland Conference and patiently reloaded.
Fast forward to now, and the Greyhounds are coming off an impressive 43-6 defeat of area rival Brown Deer on Sept. 23. The victory improved their record to 4-0 in Woodland Conference East Division play and 5-1 overall. Furthermore, it put the team on the cusp of yet another league crown when it hosts Greenfield (4-0, 5-1) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.
Hofmann said the team can't wait for the opportunity.
The Greyhounds lost a 46-20 decision to the Hustlin' Hawks last season, and the defense will have to be on its best form to hold back the high-powered duo of quarterback Rayvon Bartlett Jr. (222 yards passing per game and 13.9 yards per carry rushing) and running back Ezekiel Banks (7.4 yards per carry and 10 TDs).
"This is a big opportunity for us, no doubt," Hofmann said. "No one thought that we'd play for the conference title this year before our home crowd. It's going to be their high-powered offense against our high-powered defense. It's such a big day for the boys, the coaches, the entire football family around here.
"We'll work on keeping our cool in what is going to be an emotional game."
The Greyhounds kept their cool against a struggling Brown Deer squad (0-4, 0-6) on Sept. 23. They rolled out to a 9-0 first-quarter lead on a 16-yard option pass from end Aaron Eimers and a safety by defensive end Kendrick McGahee. The lead went to 23-0 at the break as running back/defensive back Grant Brown rushed for TDs of 15 and 73 yards.
Brown made another huge impact this game, rushing for 177 yards and three scores on just 12 carries.
"Grant is such a big part of what we do both offensively and defensively," said Hofmann. "Having him around really helps."
In the third quarter, Brown added a 62-yard run for score, and Jasper Walker rushed in from 9 yards out to put the running clock in order at the end of the period at 37-0.
Brown Deer got on the board as Ahmad McClain returned a blocked kick 75 yards for a TD early in the fourth quarter .The Greyhounds' Joe Friedman hit Miles Brown on a 4-yard TD pass to close out the scoring.
The Greyhounds had 314 total yards as Friedman hit four of five passes for 55 yards. The local co-op rushed for 243 yards on 42 tries (5.8 yards a try). Meanwhile, Shorewood/Messmer held the Falcons to 75 total yards.
Hofmann could not stop talking about the performance of his two defensive ends. McGahee had six tackles, all for losses including two sacks and interception, while his partner, Eli Rivera, had nine tackles, including three for loss. In fact, on McGahee's interception, it was Rivera who tipped the pass.
Hofmann said his defensive line coach couldn't help but say that McGahee and Rivera were practically on par with Jonathan Carson and Tywan Ramsey, the pair of NCAA D1 football players who were the prime drivers of the 2013 Metro Classic champions.
Behind McGahee, Rivera and others, this edition of the Greyhounds is looking to make its own history.
"This is definitely going to be fun playing for a conference title," Hofmann said. "Everyone is pretty excited."