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Breneman hopes to keep improving after impressive 2019 season

Breneman hopes to keep improving after impressive 2019 season Breneman hopes to keep improving after impressive 2019 season

don’t think I’m good enough for this yet.’ This year I kinda put my foot down and said, ‘you know what, I’m just going to go out there, crack some skulls and see where that gets me.’ Well, it led me here.”

Medford head coach Ted Wilson fully agreed with Breneman’s self-assessment of his 2019 season.

“What was really significant about his improvement is it wasn’t so much physical, it was mental improvement,” Wilson said. “He went from someone who wasn’t as confident in his ability and had doubts about whether he could block a guy to someone who got after it on the offensive line and strived to meet every challenge. He went after it.”

He wasn’t the only Raider to learn to play football with aggression and confidence this season and it led to a memorable season that included a nearly unchallenged run through the Great Northern Conference and two WIAA Division 3 playoff wins.

“I think that’s how it went,” Breneman said. “This last season we had a really good season. In our first game against Rice Lake, seeing that we beat them after losing to them so bad for the past few years, I think that was really a huge con- fidence boost. Then coming out and just kicking Chippewa Falls’ butt, I think that really kick-started us into thinking we can really have a good season.

“It was a really good feeling,” he added. “The class we had, a lot of them loved football, a lot of them loved to play, they loved to work. It was just a really good feeling playing with a bunch of guys that had the same passion for the sport as I do.”

After the season, it became decision time for college and Breneman said there was really only one choice for him and, fortunately, it worked out the way he wanted.

“I actually reached out to (UW-EC) about playing football,” he said. “I had River Falls offer, but I never really intended to go to River Falls. It’s always been my intention to go to Eau Claire. Ever since this last football season I’ve been thinking I may as well give college football a shot.” At UW-EC, Breneman plans to major in criminal justice, following a bit of a family legacy. His grandfather, Bill Breneman was the Taylor County sheriff not all that long ago and he said he has an uncle and cousin who are police officers.

“I’ve always had my mind set on Eau Claire,” he said. “I have a bunch of buddies going to CVTC, so it’s always been on my mind. My mom (Bobbi) went to Eau Claire and I’ve only heard good things. I was like, ‘you know what, it’s close to home, I’ve got a bunch of buddies there and I get to play football, so it’s got everything I need.’” As he leaves Medford’s program, Breneman said he’s especially thankful for the efforts Wilson and his staff, which includes line coach Ross Hackbarth, who he obviously spent a lot of time with, and his dad, JV2 coach Dave Breneman.

“The coaches here have been absolutely fantastic,” Breneman said. “They really want to work with you. They really want to not only get to know you but they’re really down to earth and easy to talk to when you have a problem. I think that’s been one of the reasons I really loved the program here.”

While waiting to hopefully get on campus this fall and waiting out the coronavirus pandemic, Breneman said he and his dad have continued to work out in their basement gym. He knows where hard work got him in high school and he knows it’s going to have to continue to make at the next level.

“(The post-season recognition) really meant a lot,” he said. “Not only was it a huge confidence boost for me, but it told me I can really go far with this if I really push myself. Seeing that is a lot of motivation for me right now. I’m putting in a lot of work right now, bulking up, lifting heavy. I’m thinking if I really push myself I can really do great in college ball. Obviously it’s not going to be the same as high school ball because everyone in college ball is as good or better than I am.”

“He’s an extremely hard worker,” Wilson said. “He worked very hard in the off-season and in practice. He made huge strides between his junior and senior years, so much so that he became an honorable mention All-State offensive lineman for us. That’s the proof in the pudding right there of how willing his to work. If he stays healthy, with his work ethic and if he keeps lifting and working to get better, he’ll do good things at Eau Claire.”

Zac Breneman