Greenfield delivered a fast start and never took its foot off the gas, taking a 47-30 win over South Milwaukee in the Woodland Conference opener Sept. 2.
The early game belonged exclusively to the Hawks (2-1) and running back Ezekiel Banks, who ran for his third touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter, giving Greenfield a 20-0 lead. Banks finished the half with four overall touchdowns and six for the game.
“We’ve got a lot of good players,” he said, “good O-line, good wide receivers, and Coach just puts us in the best position to win.”
The Rockets were able to get on the scoreboard on a touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Simuncak to Mua Vang, but those were the only points that South Milwaukee could muster in the first half, and Banks scored his fourth touchdown of the game, this time via a 51-yard touchdown pass, to give Greenfield a 27-7 advantage at halftime.
The Rockets were a different team in the second half. After sacking Greenfield quarterback Rayvon Bartlett Jr. to force a punt on the opening drive of the half, the Rockets were able to start with good field position on a good return, and scored on a quarterback keeper to cut Greenfield’s lead to 27-14.
“I thought we did a really nice job picking it up in the second half and made some adjustments," South Milwaukee coach Mike Bertok observed. "The kids did a really nice job there.”
The Rockets continued scoring through the second half but were unable to stop the Hawks’ offense, who matched them score for score despite racking up well more than 100 yards of penalties throughout the game.
“I would probably give the blame to me as well as far as getting on the guys at practice,” Greenfield coach Shane Covington said of the penalties. “We definitely need to make sure we take care of the little things. I know that’s something that we’ve not focused too much about, so we’ll definitely try to fix that going into next week.”
South Milwaukee (0-3) scored the final touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter to make it 47-30, Greenfield. The ensuing onside kick attempt sailed straight to a Greenfield player, effectively ending the game.
Despite a winless ledger, the Rockets have displayed consistent improvement and a competitive nature.
“We’re going to continue to get better as we move forward,” Bertok said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys out on the field, and they’re getting a lot of good experience. Defensively, again, we’ve got a lot of young kids out there, so we’re still learning, we’re still getting better on a week to week basis, and we’re going to build towards that at the end of the season. We’re just looking to get better every week. That’s the goal, get better than we were the week before. Every game that we’ve played in, we’ve been competitive. It was a tough loss tonight; they’ve got a couple of kids on that team that can really move the ball, so hats off to coach Covington and those guys.”
“I just label it as momentum,” said Covington. “We’re definitely getting more momentum, and it definitely lifts our morale to let our team know that we are a good team and we can compete with anyone. Now we’re 2-1, so this gives us momentum going into next week. I would say that right now, our biggest issue is we’ve got a lot of guys that are injured. We’ve got four or five guys who were (injured). We get those guys back next week. We’re just going to keep rolling.”
Banks added, “Every win counts, especially a conference game. Our plan is to win every one and good undefeated for the season. Hopefully my whole team stays healthy; we keep winning and just have a successful road to state. My boys put in good work, and we got another victory.”