Homestead shuts out Waunakee, wins D2 title

Nov. 16, 2012

The Homestead football team did something no team has done in three years -- defeat Waunakee. It happened at the most opportune moment possible, with the Highlanders winning the WIAA Division 2 state title Friday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, 14-0.

Waunakee, which came into the battle with a 48-game winning streak and three consecutive D2 state titles, threatened to score on multiple occasions but never could crack the goal line, getting shut out for the first time since November of 2005.

Perhaps most important sequence came with 28 seconds left in the first half, when Homestead took the ball at its own 25 and scored two plays later. Jay Schneider ran 53 of those yards on first down, and quarterback Jake Laihinen hit freshman Jack Popp for a 22-yard score with 11 seconds to go. The Highlanders thus took a 14-0 lead into the locker room.

The defense made play after play to preserve the lead. On fourth and goal from the 1, Waunakee was turned away for a 2-yard loss on the first drive of the second half. Jacob Mehlhoff intercepted Waunakee quarterback Will Decorah after the Warriors had reached the Homestead 12-yard line on a fourth down play one series later.

Waunakee's next drive reached 1st and goal on the 8 before the Warriors turned the ball over on downs. Lineman Ryan Stendler also intercepted a pass in the first half to squelch a drive.

"The defense was something special in the second half," said Homestead coach Dave Keel, who won his fourth state title. "Lots of bad (field) position and they kept battling like crazy. We had probably three stops inside our 10 yard line. Just a great effort by our coaching staff and defensive players to shut down a very, very good football team."

Homestead cashed in its first drive of the game, going 81 yards and finishing with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jake Laihinen. Schneider finished with 87 yards rushing and a pair of receptions for 37 yards, and Shaquille Cole carried the ball nine times for 87 yards.

"Every time is a new experience," Keel said. "These kids have not been here, although we have a great picture of a bunch of them in 2006 in the stands cheering their brothers on. It's just a special day for all the Homestead family."

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