Zach Harrison was a newcomer to the Greendale football team this season, and Mike Witkowski and Matt Thelen were veterans.
All three, however, put together fabulous seasons at their respective positions for the Panthers.
Harrison was a wide receiver and hauled in 56 passes for 958 yards and nine touchdowns. He stands second on Greendale's all-time single-season list in both yardage and receptions.
Witkowski, a center, anchored the Panthers' offensive line for the fourth straight season and finished his career with a school-record 45 consecutive starts.
Thelen was in the defensive backfield and collected four interceptions, a team-leading five passes broken up, as well as 18 solo tackles and 24 assists.
For these achievements, and their leadership on the field, the Greendale trio all snared spots on the 2016 Now Newspapers All-Suburban team.
They also received numerous other honors. Harrison was named the Woodland Conference West Division offensive player of the year, Witkowski the conference lineman of the year and Thelen first-team all-conference. In addition, all earned all-region and honorable-mention all-state acclaim.
Harrison returned to field
This season, Harrison played football for the first time since eighth grade.
"(Coach Rob) Stoltz convinced me to go out for the team," Harrison said. "He came to me shortly after the 2015 season ended and told me he thought I would be really good at wide receiver. I figured, what have I got to lose? This is my senior year and last chance to play in high school."
He admitted there was something of a learning process at first.
"Learning the plays was tough," he said. "I didn't know what to expect at first, but I was able to pick up the offense pretty quickly."
Stoltz was certainly happy to have him on the offense, especially after injuries limited top running back Tommy Kujawa.
"His natural ability and development throughout the season have been impressive," the coach said. "Zach has great speed and great quickness with the ball in his hands. We relied on Zach to be a huge part of our offense. His ceiling as a football player is quite high."
He does plan on playing football in college and has applied to some Division II and III schools.
Witkowski said technique is vital to success on the offensive line.
"Week by week, I watch film of the opponent (on the other team's defensive line) I will face in the next game," Witkowski said. "I want to check their technique. The technique is really the key. If you have great technique but are not all that big, you will still win all the time."
Stoltz said, "He is the best center I have ever coached and is the glue to our offensive line. Mike is a team captain (the past two seasons) and a yes-sir, no-sir kid who will have a lasting positive effect on our program for years to come."
Witkowski has received college offers from Southwest Minnesota State and Bemidji State in Minnesota and is waiting for additional offers.
Thelen a long-time player
Thelen was on varsity for three seasons after being called up to the big team for Greendale's run to the state championship game in 2013.
He started his football career in second grade in the Oak Creek youth program and played there until he was in fifth grade. His family moved to Greendale when he was in sixth grade.
He was also a team captain this season and posted a 3.5 grade-point average in his high school career thus far.
"Matt is a hard-working athlete who works to maximize his ability, checking for frequent feedback so as to best improve his craft in the secondary," Stoltz said.
He is a bit more uncertain about his playing future than Harrison and Witkowski, saying, "I am looking at some colleges but am undecided about playing football at this point."