Forget about the statistics. This was a game about heart and desire, and that's where the Muskego football team shined last Friday night.
Playing its final game of the 2016 season, the visiting Warriors came up with four huge turnovers and shocked 14th-ranked Arrowhead in the last Classic 8 Conference game of the season, 21-14.
Muskego turned two of those turnovers into touchdowns in the first quarter and then iced the game in the final minute by coming up with another turnover, and junior linebacker A.J. Sypchala had his fingerprints all over the defensive effort. The Warriors then ran out the clock, and the celebration began.
The win was the third in a row for Muskego, which finished the year with a 5-4 mark overall and a 3-4 record in league. Arrowhead finished the season at 5-4 and 4-3.
Spychala returned a fumble for a touchdown and an interception for a touchdown. He then clinched the game for his team in the final minute by stealing the ball from Arrowhead quarterback Henry Case at the Muskego 20-yard line.
"I can't believe that I scored two touchdowns and then had a fumble recovery at the end," said Spychala after the game. "Defensive guys don't get many opportunities to score. I was just in the right place at the right time. Our coaches put together a great game plan, and our guys executed it perfectly. It hurts not to be in the playoffs, but to come up here and beat Arrowhead is a great way to end the season."
Muskego stunned the Warhawks with the two quick turnovers and a sudden 14-0 lead.
Spychala picked up a fumble on Arrowhead's third play of the game and returned in 23 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Muskego's offense, which generated just four first downs and a 132 yards all night, marched 69 yards in eight plays on the next possession, getting the touchdown when quarterback AJ Makinen tossed a 10-yard TD pass to Alex Kalisnig. The Warriors led 14-0 with 3:04 still to play in the first quarter.
Spychala was back at it again in the third quarter. On the third play of the second half, Spychala came up with an interception and returned it 35 yards for a stunning 21-0 lead.
"I have to give credit to my teammates for some of my success tonight," Spychala saied. "Jon Ciepluch forced that first fumble I got, and a bunch of other kids did their jobs on the interception. This was a team effort all the way."
Arrowhead rallied for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cut the Muskego leads to 21-14. But it was soon after that Spychala came up with his third incredible play of the game.
After the Warhawks got a first down at the Muskego 30-yard line and less than a minute to go, Case broke loose on a run and at the 20-yard line he was met by three Muskego defenders. Spychala jumped all over the play and took the ball out of Case's hands. He fell to the ground, and the Warriors ran out the clock, securing their biggest win of the year.
"AJ Spychala is an all-conference football player and I think tonight he showed that with his two touchdown plays," said Muskego coach Ken Krause. "We knew coming in that Arrowhead had a great defense, and we talked that our defense had to win the game. We knew that coming in, and our defense did that."
Despite missing the playoffs, Krause was proud of his team.
"We have a great football program, and there wasn't one minute these kids gave up," Krause said. "We haven't had a bad practice all year, Unfortunately, we had some bad luck in the Waukesha West game or we'd be in the playoffs. I'm very proud of all these kids."