Whitefish Bay running back Rashadeem "RaRa" Gray's 49-yard touchdown scamper on the team's first play from scrimmage set the tone Friday night.
The North Shore Conference co-champions sprinted to an easy victory over Messmer-Shorewood 37-0 in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 football playoffs.
The two teams met on the football field for the first time in 11 years after playing nearly every year for 67.
With Friday night’s win, the Blue Dukes (8-1) advance to play Brookfield Central (5-4) either Oct. 26 or 27 at a time and place to be determined later.
The Blue Dukes stuck to their bread and butter — the ground attack — for much of the first half, splitting carries among Gray, and running backs Julian Posey and Jaren Walker. After Bay's initial touchdown rush, Posey drilled two more in from the red zone, and Gray punched it in for two more scores. The three combined for 257 yards and five touchdowns. Gray was the game's leading rusher with 130 yards.
Bay quarterback Grant Menard led everyone in passing with 99 yards and wide receiver Darien Walker led the way with 55 yards. Bay had scored 35 of its 37 points by halftime.
However, Bay Head Coach Jim Tietjen characterized Friday night's win as an ugly one.
He said it was tough to gauge Messwood coming into Friday night's game, with Messwood scoring 33 touchdowns and rushing for more than 2,220 yards over the course of the regular season.
"Their quarterback is pretty good, he made a lot of our guys miss," he said.
Tietjen said he's confident in the team's playoff hopes.
"We're optimistic about any team we play," he said. "We'll play anytime, anywhere, anyplace."
With Bay's win, Messwood's season came to an end. Messwood coach Drake Zortman said the team's conference simply doesn't prepare it for a Division 1 or Division 2 playoff game.
"Our best players did not play their best games," he added.
However, he said he was very pleased with the season as a whole. It's the team's second straight trip to the playoffs.
"If you asked (running back) Alec Grimmer if we would win 11 games his junior and senior year, we would have told you you were crazy," he said.
Messwood quarterback Taylor Dennis threw for 63 yards and was the team's leading rusher with 23 yards. Running back Donovan Freeman's 28 yards led the team in the receiving department.
Q1, 11:53: Messwood will receive first, short return and we're underway.
Q1, 10:50: After one successful series, Messwood forced to punt.
Q1, 9:48: TOUCHDOWN Whitefish Bay!: On its first play from scrimmage, 40-yard scamper by RB Rashadeem "RaRa" Gray. Extra point is good. Messwood 0, Whitefish Bay 7
Q1,7:50: Three and out for Messwood.
Q1, 5:53: TOUCHDOWN Whitefish Bay!: After a couple big plays, RB Julian Posey drills it in from 2 yards out. Extra point is good. Messwood 0, Whitefish Bay 14
Q1, 5:35: Messwood receives the kickoff, starts on own 29.
Q1, 4:30: Messwood gains a first down on a penalty, but forced to punt after going three and out.
Q1, 4:25: Whitefish Bay starting on its own 40.
Q1, 2:31: Whitefish Bay goes for it on 4th and 1 and garners a new set of downs.
Q1, 0:48: Whitefish Bay threatening on the 3-yard line.
Q1, 0:45: TOUCHDOWN Whitefish Bay!: From 3 yards out, RB Julian Posey pounds it to pay dirt. Extra point is good. Messwood 0, Whitefish Bay 21.
Q1, 0:45: Touchback, Messwood starting on own 20-yard line.
Q2, 11:55: Another three and out for Messwood, Whitefish Bay starts on the Messwood 49-yard line.
Q2, 11:40: INTERCEPTION! No return, Messwood starting on own 10-yard line.
Q2, 10:25: Three and out for Messwood, but huge 65-yard punt. Whitefish Bay starting on own 25-yard line.
Q2, 7:46: RB Julian Posey big 27-yard rush. Ball on the Messwood 25-yard line.
Q2, 7:38: TOUCHDOWN Whitefish Bay: 25-yard run by RB Rashadeem Gray. Extra point is good. Messwood 0, Whitefish Bay 28.
Q2, 7:33: Messwood starting on own 20-yard line.
Q2, 6:37: Messwood starting to move the ball a bit. TE Jonahtan Carson comes down with a roughly 30-yard pass from QB Taylor Dennis. Messwood on the Whitefish Bay 42-yard line.
Q2, 4:41: Messwood goes for it on 4th down. Dennis Taylor launches a long pass, but receives can't haul it in. Turnover on downs. Whitefish Bay starts on own 30-yard line.
Q2, 2:39: 45-yard scamper by RB Julian Posey. Whitefish Bay threatening on Messwood 13-yard line.
Q2, 1:52: TOUCHDOWN Whitefish Bay! 5-yard rush by Julian Posey. Extra point is good. Messwood 0, Whitefish Bay 35.
Q2, 1:42: Nice return by Messwood. Start on own 40-yard line.
Q2, 1:32: QB Taylor Dennis sheds two tackles and scampers 15 yards.
Q2, 0:33: Messwood turns it over on downs. Whitefish Bay starts on own 39-yard line.
Q2, 0:33: Whitefish Bay kneels on the ball to end the first half. Messwood 0, Whitefish Bay 35.
*Running clock the remainder of the game
Q3, 12:00: Whitefish Bay takes over on its own 20-yard line, after touchback.
Q3, 9:50: 30-yard scamper by Julian Posey. Whitefish Bay on Messwood 40-yard line.
Q3, 5:26: TURNOVER: Messwood takes possession on downs, starts on own 20-yard line.
Q4, 11:55: Safety by Whitefish Bay. Messwood 0, Whitefish Bay 37.
Q4, 10:43: Interception! Whitefish Bay turns the ball over.
Q4, 7:00: Messwood turns ball over on downs.
Q4: 5:35: FUMBLE: Messwood recovers, runs it back for TD, but play is called back for holding penalty.
That's the game folks. Your final score: Messwood 0, Whitefish Bay 37.