The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

UWL Eagles’ Quarterfinal Exit: Coach and key players reflect on season, Division I Rejects host first gameday podcast

John Gaynor
Quarterback Keyser Helterbrand after a touchdown. (Photo taken by John Gaynor.)

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Eagles football team experienced its most successful season since 1996 on Saturday, Dec. 2, in the Quarterfinal round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Playoffs. The reigning national champions, North Central College, defeated the Eagles with a score of 55-42, advancing to the semifinals. 

Head Coach Matt Janus, when asked to comment on the team’s overall success this season and its future, stated, “When I first got hired, it was about two numbers: 34 and 4. Our 34th conference championship and 4th national championship in school history. Over the last two seasons, we’ve won 34 and 35, and we’re still gonna chase after number 4.” Janus intends to sustain the Eagles’ success into the upcoming season and beyond.

Janus also discussed the upcoming year, noting, “I think that when this game is over and the dust settles, I think we’re gonna see a team that’s gonna be hungry in the offseason.” He also commented on the significance of the 14 seniors on his squad and their impact, saying, “We’re gonna miss some really big pieces and some really big people. But these people sitting here next to me are the ones who led the way.”

Now that his tenure of playing football at UWL is over, senior quarterback Keyser Helterbrand was asked about the team’s results throughout his career and what to expect from the Eagles football team in the future. Helterbrand said, “We want to be conference champions and we want to be national champions. Since we [Hilterbrand, Jack Studer and Jack Kelly] have been here, that’s all we’ve done. Set a new standard and set a new standard.”

Helterbrand credited the continued success of the program to the work ethic of the team as a whole, the coaching staff and the team’s selflessness and overall willingness to step up and make a play.

Senior linebacker Jack Kelly, reflecting on his football career as an Eagle, stated, “I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. The brotherhood and the relationships I have made here will last me a lifetime. I have no regrets.” Kelly also commented on the impact Coach Janus had on the team this season, saying, “He always says that he has the best players and best coaches, but he works harder than anybody I’ve ever seen, and I think he deserves as much credit as any of the players or anybody else who gets credited.”

During the tailgate, Division I Rejects (D1R) hosted their first gameday live podcast. The Racquet Press interviewed D1R host Kobe Manzo, who explained the purpose of the D1R podcast.

Manzo stated, “D1R is everything that the Division I level gets for small college football. We try to be the best source for information, highlights and most importantly for players to have an outlet and to have a platform to share their stories and to spread positive messaging. Whether that be players, coaches or other people that are involved with small college football.”

Manzo added, “I just wanted to say that the environment here has been fantastic, huge thank you to the athletic staff for having us out here for our first-ever live gameday of D1R. I think it went incredibly well, the hospitality has been fantastic. Thank you to them for believing in us and the vision that we had.”

The full D1R podcast can be found here.

The Racquet Press conducted interviews with fans tailgating before the game.

Third-year Student, Matthew Holloway, said, “A bunch of my roommates said it would be a great idea [to go to the game] so I decided I would go. It would be a nice thing to do on a Saturday morning, make a couple of screwdrivers and just have fun at a football game.”

Holloway continued, “This is my first UWL football game so I am excited to experience the playoff atmosphere and hopefully see a La Crosse win.”

Teresa Kulie, mother of offensive lineman Alex Kulie, and Trent Mefford father of Jackson Mefford provided insights into their tailgating experience.

“We are very excited, we are so excited to be in these playoffs. So we come up from Middleton to cheer him on,” said Kulie.

Trent added, “Meeting new families is a big highlight also… How welcoming they are, how very open become friends everyone is. We had about a two-hour drive today, and we are excited. Go Eagles!”

The box score from Saturday’s game can be found here. For any other information regarding the UWL Eagles football team, visit the UWL Athletics page. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
John Gaynor
John Gaynor, Sports Reporter
Year at UWL: Freshman
PGPs: He/Him
Hometown: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Major: Marketing
Minor: N/A
Other Campus Involvement: Running Club, Track & Field Team
Future Plans after Graduation: Work in the aviation industry
Favorite Activity in La Crosse: Walking near the river
Easton Moberg
Easton Moberg, Student Government Position
Year at UWL: Sophomore PGPs: He/Him/His Hometown: Sheboygan, WI Major: Political Science Minor: Communication Studies with an emphasis in Interpersonal Communication Other Campus Involvement: NSO Eagle Guide Future Plans after Graduation: Working at the Capitol in Madison Favorite Activity in La Crosse: Eating lots of great food Favorite Place to Eat in La Crosse: Super Street Taco
Donate to The Racquet Press

Comments (0)

All The Racquet Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *