MENOMINEE CO. -
Since 1999 when Menominee Indian High School's football program began, they have never had a winning season. Going into their matchup today with Elkhart Lake/Glenbeulah, they were 4-4 and tried to get one last win.
"We could be the first team to get a winning season and that would be pretty cool for the school," said senior Antonio Mahkimetas.
And pretty cool for Menominee Senior, Warren Kakwitch, who was looking forward to his last season.
"I was looking forward to my senior year knowing that we were going to be one of the top teams in the division," said Kakwitch.
The team was moved to 8-man football in 2015 because of low numbers. That switch brought out senior Terrell Waukau.
"When I heard it was faster, I felt more comfortable because that's in my zone of speed," Waukau.
Head coach Chris Clache is also a fan of the different division.
"They've actually enjoyed this almost more than the 11-man game. Just because it is more fast-paced and formations you can change and it's a lot more fun," said Clache.
The players have noticed a change in their coach which has helped them be more successful on the field.
"I think this year he's a little harder on us and he's pushed us a little more," said Mahkimetas.
That pushing has helped the team grow together and be more disciplined, leading to their 4-4 record going into week 9.
"We have a lot of charisma between each other. Even though we lost a few here and there and a lot last year, we never gave up on each other," said Waukau.
Clache started coaching in 2001 but took last year off. When he came back this fall, he brought with him a refreshed frame of mind.
"I came in the first day and I told them, I expect a lot out of you guys because I knew what type of guys we had and these are good guys and I've pushed them and they've responded well," said Clache.
Not only has the team responded well, but so has the Menominee community.
"We travel well and we've never done that before. We've had pretty large crowds following us to away games and sometimes we're traveling two hours to play a game," said Clache.
Regardless of the final record, Menominee football is headed in the right direction.