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Oak Creek football team applies lessons, smokes Wilmot, 40-14

Indian Trail is SEC opener

Aug. 31, 2014

Schedule hard, make mistakes, make enough plays to win, learn from it all.

Then repeat.

The Oak Creek football team is using that mantra as a model for success this fall. After struggling to pull out a 20-10 win over a feisty Menomonee Falls squad Aug. 22, the Knights went to work this week and prepared for Wilmot.

Obviously certain lessons were taken in. Oak Creek scored on every possession in the first half except one and then cruised to a 40-14 road victory over the Panthers on Aug. 29.

"I liked how we overcame the adversity of last week," said Knight coach Mike Bartholomew. "It definitely helped us because the goal of any high school team is to improve every week. You make mistakes; you figure out what you need to fix."

The Knights have had a whole year to figure out the mistakes they made in the discouraging 52-28 WIAA playoff debacle to Kenosha Indian Trail last fall — a loss that did not sit well with the Knights.

They will get a change to make amends for that when they host the Hawks in the Southeast Conference opener at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept 5. The Hawks are 1-1 this season, having dropped a tough 35-0 decision to Stevenson (Illinois school) on Aug. 29.

Bartholomew said his team will be more than ready for their home opener.

"I asked them after the game (over Wilmot), 'Am I going to have to give you a motivational speech for this one?'" Bartholomew said, "and they all said 'No!'|"We'll be 100 percent ready."

The game will be the first big steppingstone for the Knights' hope for a second league title in three seasons.

They looked to be ready against Wilmot. They scored right on the first play as quarterback Steve Stilwell pulled the ball out of his back's belly on a fake, turned upfield and saw nothing but green before him for a 63-yard touchdown run.

Stilwell was right back at it on the next series, hitting end Nick Cornale for a 10-yard TD pass. Bartholomew was impressed with Cornale's effort of grabbing the ball at its highest point and pulling it in.

The wide receivers as a group have made a big impression on him. They include Cornale, Doran Turchin, Nathan Harvey and Garrett Koch.

"They're playing as well as I've seen as a unit in a long time," Bartholomew said. "They're blocking well, and they're doing a good job running their routes."

Three Oak Creek TDs followed in short order in the second quarter as Jamie Smith had scoring runs of 4 and 11 yards, respectively, and Turchin returned a fumble 50 yards to make it 35-0. Turchin almost had another score at the end of his half, but his end zone grab of a pass was ruled to have been out of bounds.

Oak Creek subbed frequently in the second half as sophomore speedster Roy Harden raced 88 yards for the Knights' final points in the third quarter.

All told, Stilwell was four of six passing for 56 yards while also rushing for 102 yards on just four carries, while Harden had 140 yards on just four tries himself, and Smith had 45 yards on eight carries.

"We got some great teaching and learning moments on film for our backups," Bartholomew said.

He was also pleased with the effort of the defensive line, including Parker Brehm, Matt Ross, Jordan Frentz and R.J. Traxel.

"We also rotated people in because the dew point felt like it was Cancun (Mexico)," he laughed.

Bartholomew would like to see the focus be continued.

"We'll need good practice effort all four days (for Indian Trail)," he said, "and not just on the field, but in the film room and in the classroom too. The more you focus, the fewer mistakes you make."

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