The film shows Waukesha North's Deston Isler hauling in a game-clinching interception and a burst of lightning in the background at the same moment. How fitting that with the electric victory – one that barely beat the rain showers rolling into Watertown – the Northstars showed they may also be a swiftly-moving thunderstorm headed for the area football scene.
Rallying from a 23-7 deficit in the second half, reserve quarterback Tony Tromblay helped North walk away with a 26-23 thriller against Watertown. The win gave North a 2-0 start to the 2014 season under first-year coach Matt Harris, a win total that matches the output of the previous two seasons combined.
"It was surreal," Harris said. "These kids have worked so hard throughout their careers. This win is important because they now get to see their hard work pay off in a joyous sense. These are the kind of wins that help programs believe in everything we are doing during the offseason and in season."
North opened the year by taking down Port Washington, 41-9, one year after losing to the same program, 35-21. The win over Watertown, which downed North by a 42-14 count in Week 2 last season, was even sweeter,
"(The program's struggles have) never been (because of) these players' abilities," Harris said. "It all has stemmed around confidence. We have worked extremely hard to build confidence in every player on the entire team. We still have a huge mountain to climb. School starts next week, and our schedule does not get any easier. The work has only just begun. The road games don't matter to us; we might be in the road all season."
North was slated to open the season on its new synthetic field turf last weekend, which wasn't ready in time and necessitated a move to Kettle Moraine for the matchup with Port. The team is at least tentatively scheduled to host perennial powerhouse Catholic Memorial on that surface next week to open Classic 8 play.
With Watertown taking a 10-0 lead at halftime and forcing North to pass the ball, Harris elected to give Tromblay a shot in favor of dual-threat quarterback Jacob Thode, who had a huge game one week earlier.
"He is our starting outside linebacker, but he is a pure passer with great skills," Harris said. "He would start at quarterback at most schools in the state."
Tromblay threw a touchdown on his first play, an 18-yard strike to Parker Zitzke. But Watertown answered to take a 17-7 lead, then added another score to take a 23-7 lead.
"They where a good football team," Harris said. "We made some bonehead mistakes that cost us but we just bucked down and got hyper focused to finish. I tell our kids there is only one team that can stop us."
Tromblay found Mario Van Schaick for a score to pull within 23-13 in the final minute of the third quarter. His third touchdown pass went to Kendall Gould to move his team to within 23-20, and an Emilio Deleon interception squashed Watertown's potential answering drive with 4:26 left on the clock.
On the ensuing possession, North converted a 4th and 5 on its own 25 to keep the drive alive, a 35-yard completion to Zitzke.
"That is a play I stole from Ben Veit, the former Tosa West coach and a mentor of mine," Harris said. "It was just a clear-out drag."
With another 30-plus yard reception from Gould aiding the cause, Tromblay eventually capped the drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown at the 1:18 mark. A mishandled snap on the extra-point attempt gave Watertown a sliver of hope, with the score just 26-23.
The Goslings took advantage, even with lightning visible in the distance, marching to the North 20 in the final seconds before Isler's late pick gave North an uplifting victory. It was Thode who tipped the pass.
"Isler's was epic," Harris said. "Kind of a right place at the right time thing. Just boys playing football. Credit goes to coach Sam Katula, our d-backs coach, and Tim Keane, our defensive coordinator."
It's not the only success story in the Classic 8, with the eight teams going a combined 14-1 in the first two weeks, and the one loss credited to Arrowhead against top-ranked Homestead. One way or another, a storm is brewing.
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