Grief under normal conditions brings on tears and sadness and a sense of loss.
Charlie Greif, junior quarterback of the Marquette football team, imparted all those things and more on Menomonee Falls Friday night as he passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 66 yards and three more scores as the Hilltoppers beat the Indians in the Greater Metro Conference title game, 35-7.
"He's just a great football player," said Indians coach John Baker. "And he showed it here tonight."
Hilltoppers coach Jeff Mazurczak agreed.
"Charlie was the difference maker," said Mazurczak. "Our defense also played very well too and that gave us even more opportunities."
With the victory, the Hilltoppers improved to 6-1 in league and 7-2 overall while the Indians finished up at 5-2 and 7-2, respectively. It is the third league title (one shared) in the fourth year of the Mazurczak era.
The playoffs begin next Friday.
The Hilltoppers look ready to go far in the playoffs as after a Ryan Brennan interception on Falls' second possession of the game, it only took one play for Marquette to seize the lead as Greif hit speedy Mike Thompson on a 78-yard TD pass.
Thompson was wide open and flew past the Falls' defense. It would be a recurring pattern as Thompson finished with a spectacular 156 yards receiving on just four catches.
"It's great to have a deep-ball threat like Mike, but Charlie has such a great rapport with all our receivers," said Mazurczak. "I think we have three or four receivers who could be considered first-team all-conference."
He wouldn't get much argument from Baker and the Indians.
Falls fought back, however, as quarterback Adam Vechart led the Indians on a 60-yard drive for the tieing score. The key play was an 18-yard Bryce McMurtry to Christian Almonte option pass to the Hilltoppers 1-yard line.
A play later, Almonte bolted in, and the score was 7-7 with 3:14 left in the first quarter. That would prove to be the high-water mark for the Indians though.
Falls would have three first-half turnovers along with a bad punt, and that put its defense in difficult posisitions time and again.
It held several times, but after a fumbled punt on the Indians 22 midway through the second quarter, the Hilltoppers finally took the lead for good on a one-yard run by Greif at the 5:08 mark mark.
"In a big game like this, controlling field position and turnovers are always going to be huge," said Baker.
Brennan came up with another pick on the next Indians possession, and Marquette went 83 yards in nine plays as Greif scored on another one-yard run with just 50 seconds left in the half to make it 21-7 Marquette.
The big plays were an interference call on Falls on a third and long pass and then a 37-yard Greif to Jake Matkovich connection on a first and 27 situation after a Hilltoppers holding penalty. Matkovich nabbed six catches for 90 yards on the night.
In the second half, the Hilltoppers defense asserted control, as the Indians ran only eight plays to Marquette's 26 in the third quarter. A spectacular 30-yard Daniel Dahlke catch of a Vechart pass provided the only highlight in the period, but a couple of plays after that, a fumble took away any momentum Falls had.
"I couldn't have been more proud of our defense," said Mazurczak. "They just rallied to the ball all night, and we didn't let Almonte get to the edge for a big play."
Marquette's 6-4, 270-pound senior defensive tackle Conor Sheehy was a particular thorn in the Indians' side all night, disrupting runs and getting in Vechart's face almost every time he dropped back to pass.
After that last fumble, Marquette put the final touches on its victory, moving 53 yards in just four plays against a tired Falls defense. Greif scrambled 15 yards for still another score on the first play of the fourth quarter.
A series later, he hit Thompson with another beautiful ball from 50 yards out to finish off the scoring and secure yet another Marquette GMC football title.
Mazurczak has been impressed with his team's progress over the course of the season.
"We're excited," he said. "We've worked hard and stressed getting better everyday. Now I think we're ready for the playoffs."
Falls, meanwhile, will have to lick its wounds and get ready for what's next. Almonte finished with 79 yards rushing on 17 carries while Dahlke had four catches for 47 yards.
"They just played penomenally well on defense," said Baker of the Hilltoppers. "We just couldn't get any movement and when we did we turned it over. We just couldn't keep giving them short fields like that."
"Right now, we have to have a short-term memory loss and forget what happened tonight. Move on."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Menomonee Falls wrestling team storms to Greater Metro tourney title
- SPORTS SHORTS: Feb. 4
- Menomonee Falls wrestlers win rivalry match with Hamilton
- Menomonee Falls wrestling team beats rival Hamilton, 44-24
- Falls co-op swimmers starting to peak, win own invite
- SPORTS SHORTS: Jan. 28
- Menomonee Falls wrestlers second in 19-team Homestead meet
- SPORTS SHORTS: Jan. 21
- Column: Once chagrined, Menomonee Falls now has a positive fan culture (1)
- McMurtry's 30 points pulls Menomonee Falls boys past Hamilton