The members of the Greendale football team clustered near the end zone at Steve Gavinski Field, posing for pictures and holding high the first Woodland Conference championship trophy.
The Panthers had just rolled past South Milwaukee, 41-7, in the initial meeting of the champions of the Woodland West and East Divisions on Thursday night.
They accomplished something that had not been done before, but they did it in a similar fashion to all their other victories during a 9-0 season.
They simply dominated behind a powerful and diverse offense and an underrated but stout defense.
"Our offense has some talented people, and I'll tell you what, our defense has some really talented people," head coach Rob Stoltz said. "We're very fortunate that we have very hard-working, committed kids who are also very talented."
Greendale thus completed a 7-0 run through the Woodland in which it outscored foes 278-83.
The Panthers accomplished that with an offense that seems to show more balance each week.
Against the Rockets, quarterback Josh Ringelberg completed 11 of 20 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns while running for 53 yards and a score; running back Jake Zywicki collected 120 yards and a score on the ground and wide receiver Mitchell Brees caught eight passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Greendale recently added another weapon to its arsenal, speedy back Angel Ramirez, who tallied 73 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
"He does some things that other people can't do," Stoltz said of Ramirez, who is steadily seeing more playing time.
All told, six different players scored touchdowns for Greendale, and all this was without big-play wide receiver Cody Kmetz, who was unavailable for the game.
"One game, it might be one guy featured, and another game, someone else," Stoltz said. "What we do offensively is a function of who we have in personnel, but also a function of who the defense has and what they're doing schematically."
At the start of the game, though, it was South Milwaukee (7-2) that looked impressive on offense.
On the opening drive, quarterback Justin Oliden hit 6 of 7 passes for 50 yards, including a 30-yard toss to A.J. Plewa, to take the Rockets from their 20 to Greendale's 21. South Milwaukee converted four third-down plays on that march.
On fourth-and-4 from the 21, however, an option pitch to Ian Pribyl was stopped for a 2-yard loss as the Rockets turned the ball over on downs.
"They had a nice little game plan, with some quick throws and bubble (screens)," Stoltz said, "and our defense bent but didn't break. That was nice."
The Rockets never got another chance in the first half, going three-and-out on four straight possessions.
On its first chance, Greendale moved 77 yards in six plays, with Ringelberg hitting Brees for a pair of 12-yard gains and Ramirez bursting to his right for a 28-yard touchdown.
The Panthers then moved 45 yards in seven plays, with Ringelberg diving in from 1 yard. Greendale had missed the first extra point, so Zywicki ran in for two points and a 14-0 lead with two seconds left in the first quarter.
In the second period, Greendale scored on a 9-yard run by Ty Ramirez and a beautifully set-up screen pass to Nate Miller that went for 22 yards. The Panthers were up 28-0 at the half.
Greendale finished the first half with a 13-3 advantage in first downs and four touchdowns in five possessions.
The Rockets forced the Panthers into a three-and-out and their first punt to open the second half, but Oliden fumbled a snap on his 25, with Ty Ramirez recovering for Greendale.
Zywicki scored from 4 yards out six plays later to make it 34-0.
Later in the third, Brees got into the scoring act by hauling in a 22-yard pass from Ringelberg, and Frankie Rutkowski's extra point made it 41-0.
The Rockets got a consolation touchdown as Oliden hit 4 of 5 passes for 58 yards, capped by a 17-yard scoring pass to Plewa with 2 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the game.
Oliden completed 11 of 17 passes on the night for 117 yards, with Plewa catching four for 71 yards.
The night clearly belonged to Greendale, though.
"We played really well tonight," Zywicki said, "but we still can play so much better."
There's a thought for defensive coordinators of Greendale's future WIAA playoff opponents to mull over this week.
- Greendale baseball team enjoyed another winning season, had fun along the way
- Greendale grabs second place in Woodland Conference baseball tournament
- Greendale baseball team brings home third consecutive Woodland Conference West title
- Greendale's Jankowiak, Tomaszewski toss no-hitter in victory over Wauwatosa West
- Greendale baseball team pulls out three gritty victories to hold Woodland West lead
- Greendale's Thomson bounces back from bad round, moves to up to earn state medal
- Greendale baseball team's winning streak ended by New Berlin West in 11 innings
- Nerves hurt chances for Greendale's Rudd at state track meet
- Nate Thomson, Greendale boys golf team come in second in Woodland Conference Tournament
- Greendale's Magner takes up soccer, later turns in Hall of Fame career at Edgewood College