81 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

It is possible no player had a better game on defense in the Milwaukee area this season than the one A.J. Spychala had against Arrowhead on Oct. 14, scoring two touchdowns and recording 17 tackles in Muskego's 21-14 win.

But it was just one single game in a strong season for Spychala, who was named to Now Newspapers All-Suburban team at linebacker.

A starter for the Warriors since his freshman season, the junior finished with 110 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and two defensive touchdowns.

"Just my intelligence overall about football," Spychala said of how he's grown in his three years at Muskego. "I've learned a lot through watching film and talking with (Muskego outside linebackers) coach (Ryan) Lucchesi. He's been teaching me a lot about football. I think I just understand the game more than I did when I came in freshman year.

"I use that to motivate me. I look back to where I was then and where I am now. I keep reminding myself that I have big goals. To reach my goals I have to work hard and always keep working hard. No matter what I've achieved, there's always someone out there better so I have to keep working."

Against Arrowhead, Spychala returned a fumble for a touchdown to put the Warriors up, 7-0, in the first quarter. His interception return for a score made it 21-0 in the third quarter, allowing Muskego to hold on for a win despite gaining just 132 yards of total offense.

"A.J. had the best game of any player in the Classic 8," Muskego coach Ken Krause said. "He then forced the fumble that sealed the victory. He is very deserving of being first-team All-Suburban."

Spychala is turning his focus to returning the Warriors to the playoffs. Muskego lost its first four Classic 8 games in 2016, including a heartbreaking last-second loss to Waukesha West, to miss the playoffs for just the second time in the past six seasons.

"We're definitely using that as motivation," Spychala said. "We thought we had a good offseason last year, but this season we are saying we have to take it to three times that level just because we want to make the playoffs and go far in the playoffs. We use not making it as motivation.

"Muskego has a tradition of going to the playoffs. Having a regular-season game for our last game instead of a playoff game was a whole different feeling as a program. It opened a lot of eyes that we have to work hard in the offseason and push it in practice because we don't want that feeling again."

Honorable mention

In addition to Spychala earning first-team honors, Muskego had 11 players earn honorable mention All-Suburban: running backs Justin Kotarak and Michael Madia, tight end Alex Kalisnig, offensive linemen Tim Sprengel, Sam Kurth, Jorin McGuire and Joe Meyer, kicker Lucas Amaya, defensive lineman Alex Hastings, linebacker Mitch Suderland and defensive back Jon Ciepluch.

81 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE