Football team reflects on historic year

Six+Pioneer+players+celebrate+a+touchdown+in+the+second+quarter+of+their+playoff+game+against+North+Central+Nov.+30

Six Pioneer players celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter of their playoff game against North Central Nov. 30

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville football team finished its 2013 season with a 10-2 record, tying the program’s wins record.

Along with an undefeated home record, the football team was the first team to make it to the NCAA playoffs and win in University of Wisconsin-Platteville history.

“The team had great chemistry this year,” head coach Mike Emendorfer, who was named All-WIAC Coach of the Year, said. “We really worked on the trust between the coaches and the players, and that helped develop the right mindset that led us to our victories.”

Emendorfer said that the team’s next goal is to capture a WIAC Championship.

He went on to say that he will miss the graduating offensive and defensive linemen from this team, but he is excited to see the outcome of next year’s team.

UW-Platteville recorded a big win against Concordia in the team’s first NCAA playoff game at home, with a final score of 54-20.

The seventh-ranked Platteville team went on to an unsettling defeat against fourth ranked North Central in the second round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.

“I am pretty satisfied with the final outcome,” junior inside linebacker Jacob Zilbar said. “I wish we could have gone further, but it was awesome

that we made history.”

Zilbar was selected for the All-WIAC first team defense, along with freshman defensive lineman Andrew Robinson and junior defensive back Rob Austin. The All-WIAC first team offense players for the Pioneers were senior quarterback John Kelly, senior receiver Ryley Bailey and senior receiver Trevor Whitehead.

On Tuesday, D3football.com named Kelly the West Region Offensive Player of the Year.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s over, but we made a lot of memories,” Kelly said. “I am sad it’s over. I will miss it, but if you take those memories, it will last forever.”

Kelly saw a key difference in this team over others in his six years at UW-Platteville.

“We finally bought into the off-season.” Kelly said. “We saw that UW-Oshkosh was at the end of the year, so we wanted to prepare ourselves. That game was going to be worth something and we knew it. As an offensive unit, we came together, which made it easier to play as a team. I think that is why we did so well this season.”

Both Zilbar and Emendorfer agreed with Kelly that the game against the Titans was the highlight of the season.

“Just watching that field goal go through and knowing that we were continuing on to the playoffs was a great feeling.” Kelly said. “I just want to tell the team to never forget what we accomplished. It’s a pretty big accomplishment, and we should all be proud.”