2019 football season certainly was one Raiders won’t forget
FROM A PLAYER’S PERSPECTIVE
STAR NEWS SPORTS WORK STUDY
Going into the 2019 football season I don’t think many people expected us, the Medford Raiders, to have the success that we did. The team lost a lot of seniors from the year before, resulting in many open spots for this year’s team. Zac Brenemen and Isaac Zepeda were the only two lineman returning with varsity experience, and with an offense that relies heavily on the run game, a solid O-Line is key. The junior lineman stepped up big for us this year and that really helped.
We started the season playing two tough non-conference teams. Rice Lake and Chippewa Falls have been a challenge for a long time, and since 2013, Medford has started 0-2 against them. We knew this wasn’t the same Rice Lake team it has been in the past few years, and that we had a great opportunity to end that streak.
After winning the first two games, and now getting our starting defensive end and tight end Doug Way back, we had confidence going into the conference schedule starting with Ashland.
Beating the defending Great Northern Conference champs felt good especially after losing to them last year.
In week five, Rhinelander was also undefeated and playing good football. The matchup was on homecoming, making it even more exciting. We knew stopping their running back Drake Martin was the key to the game that week, and we were able to hold him to just 16 yards.
We went on the road to beat Wausau East and then Antigo without giving up a point, but our biggest challenge of the year so far was ahead of us.
Mosinee was undefeated in the conference, and the GNC title was on the line. They were different from the other teams we have seen all season because of their pass game. Their quarterback was leading the state in passing yards, and their receivers were quick. We worked against it all week in practice so we were prepared for the game. Our defense did well holding them to 14 points, and getting the ball back to the offense in a game where Ean Wilson ran for 311 yards and three touchdowns. The Mosinee game was such a fun one to play in because there was so much on the line. Winning the conference championship at home on Raider Field was something I won’t forget.
After winning in Merrill, we were undefeated in the regular season, and got the 2-seed for playoffs which meant we had the opportunity to play two more games at home.
The first round game against seventh- seeded Hayward was exciting. We played well as a team, scored 53 points, and had momentum going into Level 2.
River Falls was the biggest school in Division 3. They had lots of big and athletic guys, and played a tough schedule. That’s why lots of people thought we wouldn’t be a problem for them. We knew every team we would see from now on would be good, but we were confident in what we did, so we knew this was a game we could win. Coach Ted Wilson talked all week about facing adversity, and how we need to handle it as a team. After getting scored on in the first quarter and going down 6-0, we had to play from behind for the first time all season.
The entire game was close, but with the help of a fumbled snap that turned into a safety, and a big fourth-quarter stop by our defense, we got the win in the most exciting game of the year.
There is nothing else like playing under the lights on Friday night, but getting a win at Raider Field in a Level 2 playoff game was easily my favorite memory of the season.
Level 3 against Menomonie obvious- ly didn’t go how we would have liked it to. It was frustrating to make it that far, and then get beat like we did.
It was great to have so much support from the community, from the signs on the road to fans packing the stands on Friday. All this is what made the season so much fun, and one that I won’t forget.