- Not one Rhinelander High School senior was even born the last time the Hodag football team made the playoffs.
It's been 23 long years.
So when the Hodags upset Merrill on Senior Night last Friday, long-suffering Rhinelander backers had reason to celebrate becoming playoff eligible with their third conference win.
Or did they?
The Hodags third Great Northern Conference win here Friday should have made Rhinelander playoff eligible.
After beating Merrill on homecoming, the pride was on full display.
"In my time here," said Athletic Director Charlie LaHam, "I have not experienced that wonderful feeling."
But Rhinelander is in the last season of a four-year postseason ban from the WIAA.
That's because they left the Wisconsin Valley Conference voluntarily.
However, Messmer-Shorewood, a team in the Milwaukee area, was allowed into the playoffs last year in an identical situation.
That might change things for the Hodags.
"We were taking our medicine until another team set the precedent. Therefore, we should be allowed in," LaHam said.
Messmer-Shorewood took its case to court last year to gain admission to the playoffs.
That's why LaHam is appealing to the WIAA for playoff entry.
Does he have any idea if the WIAA will give the Hodags approval?
"Absolutely none. I would love to say that they favor us. They have a tough decision. They have a tough decisions they make all the time," he said.
If the WIAA denies the appeal, LaHam told us he's unsure if the school district would go to court to secure its first playoff game since 1989.
Until then, the Hodags team, and community, waits, and hopes.
Story By: Ben Meyer