There have been a lot of exciting moments during the Marshfield football team’s march the Division 2 state semifinals.
But the one that sparked it all might have been the Tigers’ 42-28 victory over Stevens Point Area Senior High School.
The victory over the Panthers came on the heels of their most disappointing game of the season, a 42-7 loss to Menasha.
Not only did the SPASH win erase the pain of the week seven loss, but jump-started the Tigers on a run the has them playing in their second Level 4 game in three years.
“The SPASH game was big,” Tigers coach Denny Goettl said. “That win in a championship game was a proving ground and we knew the consequences behind winning that game we would likely be a No. 1 seed. We’ve had three home games in the playoffs and we don’t even know what it’s like to get on a bus.”
The Tigers will have to do that when they take on Homestead at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re in control of when we want this thing to stop,” Goettl said. “We’re living on that. Each week we talk about being together one more week and that’s what’s driving the coaching staff and the kids. No one wants to stop playing football.”
In three playoff games the Tigers have scarcely been challenged, as they have dispatched Tomah, Holmen and La Crosse Logan by a combined score of 114 to 34.
“This is by far the most fun and best experience I’ve ever had,” senior offensive lineman Nick Thornton said. “Winning the conference championship was awesome, but now we’re playing for a chance to play in Madison and that’s pretty exciting.”
Playing football in November is what every team dreams of back in August when training camp starts and Marshfield has played deep into the month several times.
In addition to the five championship game appearances from 1997 to 2004, the Tigers have appeared in the state semifinals in 2008, 2010 and coming up Saturday.
Senior linebacker Ross Zillman was a sophomore on the team that fell to Cedarburg on a dreary day in Appleton.
“That wasn’t a good feeling two years ago to get that far and lose,” Zillman said. “We are all pretty jacked up about playing in the semifinals. We’re still working hard and focusing on playing mistake-free football.”
Added Thornton, “We still have to practice hard and intense if we want to keep this run going. We’re still intense in practices because we don’t want to lose our motivation heading into our biggest game of the year up to this point.”
When Goettl took over the reigns of the program from Len Luedtke, keeping the program at a highly competitive level was the goal. His 27-7 record and postseason success is proof that the tradition is continuing in the right direction.
“The first year I was head coach was tough, because there were some changes and people weren’t sure what to do,” Goettl said. “We had such a finely tuned machine when Len was here and no one wanted to let anyone down on the staff and it’s the same with the kids. They don’t want to let the guy next to them on the field down either.
“Maybe that’s the Marshfield way,” Goettl added. “It’s still Marshfield football even though I took over and our good friend Len left. This is my 19th year in Marshfield and I think our success is a tribute to the hard work of the coaches and the kids of Marshfield.”