Muskego had that one really good year immediately after the post-SPC realignment-- maybe 93 or 94, when they lost the state final to Arrowhead? But in the SPC (which played its last season in '92) they were a .500 club at best.
Big, strong, and slow. Every. Single. Year. They didn't really change during their "classic SEC" years after that finals appearance either. The thing that's amazed me about Krause is how much speed they have now. Whatever he's doing in the offseason to make them faster, it's working.
1994, Arrowhead won 19-16 in a game that Arrowhead was clearly the better team, but the Warriors made them sweat before a controversial FG re-try from 43 yards at the horn won it for Arrowhead. (see Journal Sentinel lookback article below)
The showdown between Muskego and Arrowhead 24 years ago was one of the more evenly matched state final games, but that’s not the reason why it goes down as one of the more memorable.
Instead, it was a controversial – and incorrect – call that gave Arrowhead a chance to kick a 43-yard field goal as time expired. Warhawks senior kicker Matt Stover – no, not longtime NFL kicker Matt Stover; yes, it’s confusing – made good on that opportunity, splitting the uprights as time expired to give Arrowhead the 19-16 victory.
“We were all still just in a state of shock and confusion at that point over what was happening,” Dennis Johnson, Muskego’s coach at the time, told the Journal Sentinel this week.
After Muskego put together an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 16-16 with 3 minutes 8 second to go, the Warhawks, who were the top-ranked team in the state, drove the ball to the 4-yard line of Muskego with 18 seconds left.
From there, Arrowhead coach Tom Taraska opted to use his last timeout and, instead of trying to score and possibly running out the clock, chose to attempt a 21-yard field goal with Stover on first down.
"If you screw something up you still have a second chance," Taraska said at the time.
The call turned out to be prophetic, because first Arrowhead did screw something up. Then so did the officials.
Warriors all-state linebacker Chris Simonsen burst through the middle of the offensive line to block the kick forcefully, sending the ball back to the Warriors’ 26, where Arrowhead holder Jim Minessale recovered with 12 seconds left.
“Big-time players come through in big-time moments, and that’s Chris Simonsen,” Johnson said.
Because Minessale recovered the ball in bounds, the clock should have continued to run.
But it didn’t.
“When we blocked it, they recovered, so it was still their possession but everyone was wildly confused on the field,” Johnson said. “That included the refs, who had blown the play dead because they thought it was our ball even though the kick was on first down.”
Initially, the Muskego offense was called out to the field, but before the Warriors snapped the ball the officials realized their error. The clock never should have stopped and it should be second down for Arrowhead at the 26.
"I’m confused by that, but I’m not going to give them another chance to win the game, so I send our offense out there,” Johnson said. "Then they correct it and give them another chance to line up and kick it.”
There was little chance, after the first kick was blocked, Arrowhead could have rushed to the line of scrimmage, lined up, gotten the ball spotted by an official and still snapped it in 12 seconds.
Instead, the clock was stopped to sort things out.
Stover and the Warhawks trotted back out to the field, where the officials signaled to start the clock and the ball was snapped with 4 seconds left.
The Warriors rushed only a couple of defenders, anticipating a fake that never came. Instead, Stover connected on a then-finals record to send the Warhawks to their second consecutive state championship.
“We knew the kid could kick long field goals,” Johnson said. “We had that scouted out before. They felt like they had a better chance of making the first one than getting it in the end zone, so give them credit. They knew their kid and what he could do. They knew the conditions and that he could make the kick. I wasn’t surprised when he made it. Looking back, maybe we decide to rush there instead of playing for the fake.”
Johnson and the Warriors have had every opportunity to publicly criticize the officials, but still opt to not go that route.
“It was an error on the officials’ part, but it would have just sent us to overtime,” Johnson said. “So who knows what would have happened? It’s not like, oh boy, we got screwed and we were guaranteed a win otherwise. They were confused, the kids were confused, the fans were confused. It happens.”
Muskego had its play calls prepared for overtime, with a different set of plays depending on whether they got the ball first. If they did, they would go conservative on the first two plays before taking a shot at the end zone and, if that failed, kicking a field goal. If not, they would have played to at least match Arrowhead’s score.
In the end, it didn’t matter.
“It was a very unique situation; that’s what I say,” Johnson said. “People were asking me if I was mad, but I just felt bad for the officials. It was a gut punch for us, don’t get me wrong, but that’s just the way the game goes sometimes.”1994 Title Game highlights:
Controversial final FG sequence: