The Menomonee Falls football team wanted to make sure that next week’s regular season finale wouldn’t be their last game of the season.
So far, so good.
The Indians, who beat West Allis Hale on Friday night by a score of 34-13, are now 5-3 overall and 3-3 in league play and need one more victory to clinch a playoff berth.
Hale fell to 1-7 overall but kept the game closer than the score indicates.Entering the fourth quarter, Falls and Hale were tied at 13-13 when the Huskies made a late comeback.
It wasn’t until the Indians rattled off 21 unanswered points that the game was put out of Hale's reach. Falls junior running back Justin Johnson, who had three rushing touchdowns, finished with 96 rushing yards and 47 receiving yards.
“We came out (at the end of the third quarter) and really punched them in the mouth and just came out with a lot of intensity,” Johnson said.
A name that won’t be in the box score is Matt Christensen, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t important to the Indians victory because of his key kickoff returns.
One of those returns occurred at the start of the game when Falls’ offense started at Hale’s own 22 yard line.
Johnson subsequently punched in a 1-yard touchdown to put Falls up, 7-0.
Hale’s first three drives resulted in punts, with the third punt fumbled on the snap to give the Indians great field possession. It didn’t take long for Johnson to score on a 5-yard run.
Hale’s defense blocked the extra point to keep the score at 13-0.
Coach John Baker was happy with the way his team handled the circumstances.
“Homecoming week; we had a lot of things off the field,” Baker said. “We had some tough things the guys had to deal with this week, and I was really proud of how they came out and played and stayed focused.”
The Huskies came out of halftime swinging with the resilient running of junior Zach Smith and sophomore Corey Stingley.
After short but beneficial runs by Smith, Stingley broke loose for a 48-yard scamper to set up senior quarterback Dan Sotiros for a 1-yard touchdown run.
Hale was right back in it down 13-7.
The Huskies capitalized again when Sotiros faked a handoff and raced, untouched, into the end zone. Falls’ defense slowed Hale’s momentum by blocking the extra point to keep the game at 13-13.
After another crucial kick return by Christensen, the Falls offense took over.
Johnson ran the ball for 32 yards during the drive, but it was junior quarterback Brett Krause’s 24-yard score that put the Indians up for good by a score of 20-13.
Hale coach Sean Hegarty thought his Falls’ offense did a great job, along with his own squad.
“[Falls’ offense] really raised the level of play once we tied the score,” Hegarty said. “They got the ball and went right down the field and regained the momentum so to speak. . . I’m really proud of our guys though. We fought. We’re down by two scores at halftime, we could’ve packed it up; they didn’t. They came out with a lot of resolve and fight and they showed us their character and they took pride in their school and their teammates and we played as hard as we could.”
Falls’ defense sealed the game with the senior leadership of James Ulicki, John Kontowicz and Jared Bratchett.
The final two scores came from another Johnson run and a perfect spiral pass thrown by Krause to sophomore Christian Almonte.
“We finished and got the job done,” Baker said. “As a team, as a whole, they just did a great job tonight. It was a good victory that they (the players) needed.”
The season will once again be on the line for Falls when they travel to Brookfield Central next Friday.