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Sports

Friday, November 1, 2013

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Undefeated Spartans clinch conference title

First time 9-0 since 2000 team won D-1 championship

Spartans hold up their fingers, representing “number one” after the victory over the Marsfield Tigers in the last regular season game to win the conference title on Friday, October 18th 2013 . The Spartans were the only undefeated team in the conference, outscoring there oponents 329 to 109. Vicki Kempinger Struensee Photo

Alec Goodermuth of the North Star staff Duty, honor, respect, selfless service, integrity, courage… words that mean everything to an Oshkosh North Spartan. These words were on a card that were given to each football member. It was each individual's job to take care of the card and to abide by these values and expectations, the very same that have brought them to where they are today. This year, the Oshkosh North Spartans went undefeated with a 9-0 record to clinch the VFA south conference title on October 18, 2013 after defeating the Marshfield Tigers. It was a huge accomplishment for the Spartans, considering that the last team to go undefeated at North was the 2000 Division 1 State champion team coached by Steve Jorgensen. They also went on to take the State title too. “Preparation started last year at the end of the playoff game against Green Bay Southwest,” said Head Coach Chris Kujawa. The Spartans lost to Southwest 14-7. “It was demoralizing knowing that we could have beat them but coming up short in the end.” Kujawa would also go on to talk about how the return of offensive and defensive starters, including senior quarterback Nate Neveau, would be critical to their undefeated season. Out of the the 22 starters for Oshkosh North, 20 of them received some sort conference recognition. Neveau received first team all-conference, along with offensive player of the year. Senior offensive lineman

Zach Zangl also received first team all-conference with the vote of offensive lineman of the year. “It felt so good knowing that I was voted unanimous first team all-conference, and being voted offensive lineman of the year really made me thankful for my team and everyone in my life that has helped me get to where I am today,” Zangl said during an interview after the release of conference listings. Additionally, senior Robert Phillips received first team allconference linebacker and junior Alex Hintze received first team all-conference for running back and free safety. “I have never been more proud in a group of young men that I’ve coached. Not only for their achievements, but how they work as a team and how they execute as a team,” said Kujawa. Although the Spartans clinched the conference title, the road to get there was not easy. The Spartans started out hot, outscoring their non-conference opponents 111 to 15, a very impressive showing for the Spartans. They earned a spot in Division 2 top 10 ranked teams list. As the season carried half way through, the Spartans were held to 80 points in three games but only allowing 36 points which averages out to be about 12 points per game. “Having three good teams like Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point and Menasha to play all back to back was very tough. It tested us mentally and physically,” said senior lineman Caleb Davila. These important wins earned them a rank 8th in

the Division 2 Coaches week 5 AP poll. Next, the Spartans had to host the Fond du Lac Cardinals for the Homecoming game. The Spartans rolled on through with a 42-14 victory. For their next opponents, the Spartans faced the Neenah Rockets. The Rockerts shocked a lot of Spartans and Spartan fans with a near victory over the Spartans, but North pulled out a 23-14 victory to stay unbeaten. After that, the Spartans faced their cross town rivals, the Oshkosh West Wildcats. “I always enjoying playing Oshkosh West because the game means more than just a win, it’s bragging rights and it determines who owns Oshkosh,” said junior offensive lineman Brett Sawicki. A lot of fans would also agree with Sawicki. “It’s one of the best games to attend because their is a lot of people that come and you never know what can happen,” said junior Brandon Hamm. Oshkosh North Superfans also talked about how the North-West game was one of the biggest games of the year just because of the cross town rivals. The Spartans finished the night with 192 rushing yards and a shutout win over the Wildcats. “It was a great win, not only the fact that it was Oshkosh West, but it guaranteed a share of the VFA conference title,” said Kujawa. That same Friday night there was a game between Marshfield and Menasha, and Menasha beat the Tigers leaving the Spartans the only undefeated team left in the conference.

Game this Friday! Oshkosh North Vs. Deforest 5pm at

Titan Stadium

Therefore if the Spartans lost to Marshfield in the last game of regular season, they were still guaranteed a share of the title. Fortunately the Spartans defeated Marshfield 24 to 13. “This is a once in a lifetime feeling, and it feels great,” said Hintze. “It’s an awesome feeling, knowing that our picture is going to go up on the wall outside of the weight room for forever,” said senior linebacker Max Yang. Although that the Spartans had a very good regular season, they had little time to celebrate. They had to get ready for playoffs. The Spartans received a number one seed in group C of the Division 2 playoff bracket. In another bracket division 2 leaders Kimberly and Homestead were placed in the same bracket, with Kimberly getting a 2 seed when they were ranked 1st in division. But the business of the Spartans was not with Kimberly or Homestead, it was with the number 8th seed Slinger. Although Slinger was given the 8th seed, they sure did give the Spartans a run for their money. At the half, the Spartans trailed by three. They quickly turned it around with two key intercep-

tions by Hintze and junior Alec Goodermuth in effort to bring the Spartans ahead 21 to 17 with a couple minutes into the 4th quarter. Slinger then drove into the Spartans red zone until they found themselves facing a fourth and long with the game on the line. Slinger’s pass was incomplete and they were forced to turnover on downs. but the game was not over. The Spartans were faced with a similar situation although it was fourth and short. The Spartans took a chance and did a QB sneak up the middle. As a result the Spartans got the first down and would further run down the clock to clinch their first playoff victory. “That was probably one of the most intense games I had been a part of, and I was so proud [of] the boys for how they battle back and never lost sight of the win,” said Kujawa. With the win over Slinger, the Spartans advance to level 2 and will face D.C. Everest. The opportunities that the Spartans have are great, but the journey to achieve greatness will not come easy. As Coach Kujawa has always said, “Nothing good ever comes easy.”

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