Updated 11:15 p.m.
There were fireworks. There was a video message from former Wisconsin Badgers coach Barry Alvarez. Heck, there was even a rainbow.
But what made an evening when the Whitnall School District celebrated the grand opening of its $6.5 million, state of the art football stadium perfect was that the Falcons walked off the field with a win.
Whitnall (2-1) christened its new athletic facility with a 19-6 victory over crosstown rival Greenfield (0-3) Friday night, rebounding from a lopsided loss to Wauwatosa West one week earlier and accentuating the debut of Falcon Field in style.
"It was a tremendous amount of pressure this week. It’s a monkey off our back," first-year Whitnall coach Jeff Wallack said. "It’s one of the greatest facilities in southeastern Wisconsin. The kids worked so (darn) hard, especially after being demoralized against Wauwatosa West. … This is a special, special night."
Senior quarterback Zach Sutton scored the first-ever touchdown on the new synthetic turf when he sneaked in from 1-yard out with 1 minute, 6 seconds left in the first quarter.
He made history again when he threw the first-ever touchdown pass at Falcon Field, a 14-yard strike to fellow senior Sam Mentkowski with 6:09 left in the second quarter. The extra-point gave the hosts a 13-0 lead.
Mentkowski eventually put the finishing touches on the opening night victory when he intercepted junior quarterback Joey Hannah’s pass at the 3-yard line and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown with just 2:47 remaining.
"Sam is one of the top athletes in the conference," Wallack said. "We platoon, but Sam’s the one kid we have a hard time getting off the field. He’s full of heart. He’s a great, great kid. I’m proud to be with him."
Greenfield, which hasn’t scored a touchdown this season, managed only a pair of field goals by Hannah.
Both teams relied on their defense from the start as the offenses struggled, combining for the same amount of punt attempts as first downs (13 each).
Whitnall managed just 154 offensive yards, including only 52 in the second half. Sutton finished 12-for-23 for 135 yards and two interceptions. The Falcons called only about a dozen run plays all night.
"We go five-wide because we’re senior dominated at (wide receiver) and that’s something they know very well," Wallack said. "We’re trying to slowly change it to a more run-oriented team, but at the same time, I know what butters the bread. These kids are comfortable with it."
Greenfield, which basically runs all the time, tallied only 135 yards, 20 of which came on a completed pass that was tipped and could have been intercepted. Eight different ball carriers handled the ball, including three different quarterbacks, who combined to complete just the tipped pass in 11 passing attempts (with two interceptions).
“You can’t (play three quarterbacks) at the varsity level,” Greenfield coach Scott Otto said. “I have to find one, I have to go with one and we have to ride him. That was the difference in the game tonight.
“I’ll take the blame. I need to make sure we get our quarterback situation remedied, and I think we’ll be just fine. It’s pretty apparent. I don’t think I’m throwing anyone under the bus. As the head coach, I need to do something to kind of jump-start that position.”
Otto said sophomore Jeremy Swider, who played the final series Friday, would be under center when the Hustlin' Hawks host Cudahy at 7 p.m. Sept. 14.
Whitnall will try to make it two wins in a row and three of four this season when it hosts St. Francis at 7 p.m. Sept. 14.