Ben Chossek's debut as New Berlin West football coach turned into a marathon affair.
In a game that featured a two-hour lightning delay, New Berlin West and Port Washington played deep into the night before the Pirates came away with a 28-21 win in overtime.
Lightning came while the teams were in their respective locker rooms for halftime. They stayed there for close to two hours, as the game didn't resume until just before 10 p.m.
"We were very pleased with the effort the kids gave," Chossek said. "They hung together in a close game during an odd night with the weather.
"It certainly was very different. We are fortunate to where a lot of our kids play multiple sports and are used to playing in tournaments where they are starting and stopping. We just had them go to the locker room and gave them the space to be themselves. They handled it well. We came out ready to play."
New Berlin West jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 77-yard touchdown run by Max Meleski in the first quarter. Port Washington tied the game on a 50-yard touchdown run by Jacob Lippe with 8:01 left in the second quarter.
Meleski put the Vikings up 14-7 on a 50-yard touchdown run with 5:18 remaining in the first half, but the Pirates tied the game on a one-yard touchdown run by Deron Spicer just 56 seconds before halftime.
The game stayed tied after the delay until quarterback Nate Egofske found Meleski over the middle for a 24-yard touchdown to put New Berlin West back on top with 3:04 left in the third. The Vikings held the lead until Matt Ruppel broke a 69-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 21-21 with 8:28 to play in regulation.
New Berlin West forced Port Washington into a 4th and 5 on the first possession of overtime, but the Pirates converted and eventually found the end zone on a 5-yard run by Ruppel.
"They ran a play that was successful for them all night, a wing counter play," Chossek said. "They got the first down and were able to punch it in."
The Vikings put themselves in a tough spot on the ensuing possession by committing a holding penalty on first down. New Berlin West couldn't dig out of the hole caused by the holding penalty and threw incomplete on fourth down to end the game.
Meleski accounted for 262 of New Berlin West's 348 yards of offense. The senior ran 17 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns and caught four passes for 105 yards and a score. Egofske went 8-for-15 for 140 yards and ran for 34 yards on 11 carries.
"Max is a key for us," Chossek said. "He's a real talented kid. He has a lot of speed. One of our goals is to get him as many touches, especially in the open field, as we can. He had two nice long runs for touchdowns. If you give him a crease, he has the ability to go the distance on any play. He displayed that twice."
New Berlin West will look to rebound at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, when it travels to face Milwaukee Lutheran.
The Vikings fell, 28-14, to the Red Knights last season. Milwaukee Lutheran dropped its season opener, 35-6, to Beaver Dam.
"We did enough things to have an opportunity to win the game, but we also did enough things and made enough mental errors to lose the game," Chossek said. "You try and emphasize the things we did well and learn from the things we did poorly.
"We were pleased with the effort the kids came with and the competitiveness and fight they showed against a good Port team. That's the type of team we're going to play in the Woodland West. Although we want to win and felt we had an opportunity to win, there were a lot of things to build on."