Sports Spotlight: Rhinelander football looks to conclude historic season with a win
Story By Andrew Goldstein
Local Sports Published 11/16/2020 10:26PM
At the beginning of the year, the Rhinelander Hodags just wanted some kind of season.
"I expected four games and just play your heart out for those four games," said senior Ben Sinclair. "Because you never know when it's going to be your last game."
Rhinelander has finally arrived at their last game after playing twice as many as Ben expected, going 7-1 through eight games.
"Not very many football programs get to win their last game as a senior," said Rhinelander senior Tyler Olson. "The only people who normally win is the state champ."
Just getting to the last one has been history enough.
Rhinelander won the Bell Trophy over Antigo for just the fifth time since 2000, nearly won conference for the first time in over 30 years and won a playoff game for the first time ever.
"Its been years and years and years since we've won much of anything for football at Rhinelander," said senior Kirk Mathews. "We just haven't been very good for a long time."
As the new and improved Hodags get ready to play that last game, they think of the generations before them that didn't get to.
"A lot of the coaches here played so they know, like, it's just different," Mathews said. "It's not 'oh, I hope we have a good game and win.' It's just 'yeah, we're going to go out there and we're going to win.'"
"With 2020 being as weird as it was with COVID and the election going on, it was something to look forward to in the newspapers, seeing the Hodags win every week," Sinclair said.
Now there's just one more week, one more game and one last chance to step on the field for the seniors.
"This year has been amazing and I wouldn't have wanted to share it with anybody else," Sinclair said.
That last game will be against Mosinee on Thursday in Mike Webster Stadium for a playoff pod championship.
Friday Night Blitz will also be shifted to Thursday this week to accommodate it.