The last three times the state powerhouse high school football teams from Arrowhead and Homestead have played, the winning margins have been 2 points, 6 points and 4 points. That's just what this rivalry looks like.
The latest version of the series came Thursday night in the final nonconference game of the regular season for both teams, and for the third straight time, it was Homestead that came out on top. Hosting the No. 3-ranked (AP Large School poll) Highlanders, Arrowhead, ranked No. 1 in the same poll, suffered a 24-20 loss.
Homestead (2-0) grabbed a 14-0 lead early in the second period after a 1-yard run by quarterback Nick Allen and a 21-yard pass from Allen to end Jack Popp and never gave it up.
Arrowhead, playing with just two returning defensive starters and four offensive starters back from last year's WIAA state Division 1 state championship team, made it a 14-7 game late in the first half and then cut that deficit to 17-14 in the third quarter after Sebastian Luksich caught a 73-yard scoring pass from Johnny Duranso.
Homestead regained a 24-14 edge with 6:59 remaining in the game only to watch the Warhawks rally back again, this time making it 24-20 game after Cody Sellhausen's 1-yard run with 1:27 left in the game.
Homestead's Patrick Minkin then recovered Arrowhead's onside kick attempt, and four plays later, the Highlanders ran out the clock, securing its third straight win over the two-time reigning state champion Warhawks.
"We missed some opportunities with penalties and some other things, and we just can't do those things," said AHS fourth-year coach Greg Malling. "But we'll get better. A loss is a loss. I feel more like they beat us this year than last year. They don't make many mistakes. That's why we like to play them. They're a very good team. It was a great learning experience for us."
After falling behind 14-0, Arrowhead's big-play offense struck, scoring on a 65-yard scoring pass from Duranso to Jordan Argue.
Homestead piled up 206 total yards in the first half and scored points on three of its four possessions.
"The first one felt great last year, it was a dog-fight, and this one is a great feeling too," said Homestead defensive lineman David Pfaff, a University of Wisconsin recruit. "But we need to bring it home to Camp Randall this year (for a state championship). This is a building block to what we need to do to make that happen.
"We live by Coach (Dave) Keel's words. He instills it in us. That was a great opponent over there but we expect to win and we expect to win with class."
Arrowhead's defense improved in the second half, allowing Homestead just one touchdown. Andy Hessler, Jake Powell, Tedy Orlando and Antonio Jose-Ramos made big plays for the AHS defense.
When Homestead scored on its first possesion of the game in the first quarter, it marked just the second time in the last 17 games covering the last three seasons that a team scored a touchdown in the first half against the Warhawks.
Homestead is the only team to beat the Warhawks since the last game of the 2011 season, when Verona topped them in the second round of the playoffs.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Allen was the biggest thorn in the Warhawks side all night. The Highlanders finished the game with 368 total yards, and the talented three-year starter accounted for 291 of those yards. He rushed 28 times for 136 yards
"That kid is big and he's a very good quarterback," said Arrowhead senior defensive end Jack Bredeson. "He's a good player and we had to battle him all night. But overall, I thought some of the new guys stepped up and played a lot better as the game moved on. We struggled early on defense, but we got a lot better in the second half."
Allen completed 10 of 14 passes for 155 yards and one score. "Nick found some gaps and holes in the secondary and put the ball right where it needed to be," said Homestead coach Dave Keel. "I really like his throw on the fourth down touchdown pass because he could have overthrown that and he put it right on the money."
Duranso completed 14 of 19 passes for 198 yards and two scores. Luksich had four catches for 81 yards and Argue had two catches for 68 yards before leaving the game with a head injury.
HOM - Nick Allen 1-yard run (Luke Neusen kick)
HOM - Jack Popp 21-yard pass from Allen (Neusen kick)
AHS - Jordan Argue 65-yard pass from Johnny Duranso (Peyton Peterson kick)
HOM - Neusen 27-yard field goal
AHS - Sebastian Luksich 73-yard pass from Duranso (Peterson kick)
HOM - Allen 1-yard run (Neusen kick)
AHS - Cody Sellhausen 1-yard run (kick failed)
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