For second time in three years, Greyhounds accept a forfeit on homecoming
Seniors take things in stride
They're maturing before their coach's eyes and it makes him so very proud.
Only, the 15 or so senior members of the Shorewood/Messmer football team just wish this current request from coach Drake Zortman hadn't cost them their final homecoming game.
But it did.
The seniors did have some fun Friday night, as they helped coach their freshmen and sophomore teammates to a "victory" in a varsity reserve contest against Kenosha Christian Life that did help anchor the weekend homecoming festivities at Shorewood. Senior night activities for three-year letter-winners like quarterback Taylor Dennis and defensive end/tight end Jonathan Carson and their classmates also went on, too.
But because the game that night went down officially as a forfeit in Messwood's favor and because the seniors and the top five juniors on the team did not get to play in their final official home game of the year, it just wasn't the same.
"It definitely hurt," said Dennis, who ran the offense for the varsity reserve squad Friday. "It was our (Shorewood's) homecoming and senior night. It was really a game we were looking forward to and it's the second time that that's happened since we've been here.
"Two years ago, it was the officials who didn't show up (at homecoming), so we tried to show a good example and help our teammates win a game."
"Our guys have been nothing but honorable," Zortman said. "We've asked them to buy into the concept of team football. To look out for their brothers on the team. They were tested and they came through again."
Concern for player safety
What happened is that KCL officials called earlier in the week expressing concerns about the eligibility of some of their players (from the first grading period) and the safety of their remaining players because of a small roster.
"On Monday (Sept. 30) they called and they said they'd honor the contract," Zortman said, "and Tuesday (Oct. 1) they called again saying they were worried about grades and player safety (and wanted to get out of the game). Three hours later after getting the (Midwest Classic) Conference commissioner involved, they called back and said they could do it only on a varsity reserve/exhibition manner.
"That's when we started calling around looking for other games."
Only there were none to be had even though Zortman and officials at Shorewood and Messmer went through every school directory on which they could lay their hands.
"I checked the Wisconsin list and there were four openings but all of them said 'no,'" Zortman said. "Then I went through the Illinois list and checked every conference and game there, too. I met a lot of interesting people over the phone and on e-mail from Iowa, Michigan and Indiana, too. We thought we had a couple of chances with some Chicago schools.
"But nothing worked out."
So they accepted the KCL offer of the reserve game at Shorewood that could serve as the homecoming contest.
That decision led to an emotional meeting with the team on Oct. 2 to explain the situation.
"I've asked the seniors to make a lot of sacrifices before," Zortman said, "and they've answered every time. This one was hard though, because it meant a lot to them. But to a man, they knew how important this was (to have some sort of game) to the schools and the community we serve."
"This was just a matter of stepping up and being leaders," Dennis said.
Players coach teammates
As noted, a little fun was to be had, too, as all the players not in the game, were involved in "coaching" one way or another.
Aside from Dennis as offensive coordinator, senior Rodney Neely was the team's defensive coordinator while almost everyone else who sat out the game had a role as "assistants." Those jobs went to Joey Palmisano, Matt Smith, Riley Sellinger, Nate Visor, Jekim Jones, Quinton Coby, Deonte Newson, Ray Pierce, Mike Hendrix, Deniko Montgomery, Andre Brown, Lasavvunta Moreland, Tywan Ramsey, Quintin Thomas, Mike Fazio, Jonathan Carson and Patrick Holliman.
The team's general manager was Mykyo Evans and the director of player personnel was Coby.
Carson and Dennis even joked that someday soon, they'll come back and take Zortman's job.
Looking at the bigger picture, the Greyhounds (5-0 in league and 5-2 overall) are two games away from an elusive conference title. They go on the road Friday to visit Brookfield Academy at 7 p.m.
Dennis and the rest of the seniors and juniors who did not play this past week can't wait for that kickoff. They know they are just two wins away from the first league title for Messmer since 1947 and since 1981 for Shorewood.
"We're preparing, we know we're not done yet," he said. "We have to buckle down and get ready to win these last few games.
"...And if that happens, I can't imagine what that will feel like (to win a conference title). I can't describe how much that would mean (to all of us)."
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