Hales Corners - The air show that the Whitnall football team has put on in recent seasons soared to a new level in 2012.
Senior quarterback Zach Sutton and his talented receiving corps, led by senior Sam Mentkowski, put up some numbers that are just not seen all that often in area high school football.
Sutton, following in the tradition of former quarterbacks Luke Mentkowski and Joel Stave, put up 342 passes this season, completing 196 for 57 percent. He passed for 2,406 yards and 22 touchdowns.
His primary target was Sam Mentkowski, who racked up 72 catches for 1,008 yards and 12 scores. The 72 receptions put him 15th in state history for a single season, and his 16 catches against Wisconsin Lutheran tie him for third place for receptions in a single game in Wisconsin history.
Sam Mentkowski, who shattered every receiving record in Whitnall history, is a finalist for the Al Toon Award, given to the best wide receiver in the state.
He was not a one-man show, however. Senior Patrick Wyrowski collected 43 catches for 510 yards and was a semifinalist for the Toon Award, and all told, Whitnall had five receivers with at least 15 catches this season.
All this passing offense, plus just enough timely running by junior Dan Lak, helped the Falcons win a share of the Woodland Conference East Division championship with Brown Deer and South Milwaukee at 5-3.
The title was the fourth in school history and the first since 2000.
Whitnall reached the WIAA Division 3 playoffs and finished 5-4 overall after an opening-round loss to Wisconsin Lutheran.
'I was excited with how things wound up,' first-year head coach Jeff Wallack said. 'If you had told me in August that we would be relevant in the conference race, I would have been happy. The kids worked hard, and this was a good way to spend my first year.'
There were some special moments along the way, he said, highlighted by the memorable opening of Falcon Stadium with a victory over rival Greenfield. The Falcons then went on to finish 3-0 in their new home.
Whitnall also beat New Berlin Eisenhower for just the second time in 10 seasons and won its homecoming game for the first time in years, Wallack said.
The defense still does not resemble Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain, but it did improve from previous seasons. The Falcons forced 16 turnovers, quadrupling its total from 2011, and they held a powerful Greenfield rushing attack to less than 100 yards.
The Falcons lose 19 seniors, including Sutton, Sam Mentkowski, Wyrowski, receiver Nick Cimler and defensive back Nate Stemo, among others. But Wallack thinks the high-flying fun - and the success - can continue next season.