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Opinion

Falcon football will rise up to compete in conference

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September 19, 2013

The school year is upon us, but more importantly, the football season, as both the college and professional seasons have started.

There is just something special about the fall.

I’ve spent years figuring out why, when September came around, I became more anxious and excited than a 7-year-old on Dec. 23. It has occurred to me that it has everything to do with football. Now my heart lies with professional football, but I have a strong passion for college football, especially the Wisconsin Badgers and our UW-River Falls Falcons.

I’ve been in this city for six years, and in every one of those years, the Badgers have been very competitive and respected by everyone in conference, and nationally. This year appears to be the same. New coach, new “go-to-players,” same strong running game and rocking Camp Randall.

As for the Falcons, well, they have room to improve but look stronger than they have in years.

Coach Matt Walker has this team playing with an ambition, passion and drive that I have never seen in my years as a Falcon. Now that’s not to say last year’s team wasn’t strong, they were very solid, extremely underrated on the defensive side of the ball and were in plenty of games which they didn’t get credit for.

Starting a true freshman at quarterback, the team made a move for the future and that has worked out. Ryan Kusilek has looked fantastic in two years as a Falcon, and has done everything the coaches have asked him to, and everything he can do to prove to his teammates that he’s the man to lead this team on Saturdays.

While calling the game last Thursday against the St. Thomas Tommies, I saw a football team that needed to do one thing, learn how to win. Two weeks ago they let a victory slip through their fingers against St. John’s, and last week, made the game a lot closer than the No. 2 ranked Div. III football team in the country expected it to be. The stadium was full of supporters who could see it too. They saw that this football team is for real and it’s only a matter of time before the wins start to pile up.

Now one thing is for sure, this campus is starving for a winning football team. The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) has stockpiled Div. III talent in UW-Whitewater, UW-Platteville and UW-Oshkosh the last few years and, quite frankly, fans in the conference are sick of it. We all respect the fact that Whitewater went to seemingly 10 straight Div. III championship games, winning half of them, but this conference is more than just Whitewater. Last year Oshkosh stormed through everyone on their schedule only to fall short of the title. Platteville boasts amazing facilities, and a formidable top 25 team. This is the year of the underdog. I strongly feel that you will not see and undefeated team in the WIAC this year, and there will be no winless teams.

Parity has hit the WIAC, and the time is now for the Falcons to sneak up on some teams and claim their stake as a WIAC competitor, and lose the doormat stereotype.

Brandon Jones is a senior journalism major minoring in political science. Sports means the world to him. The sound of a ball cracking against a bat, a ref blowing his whistle: It all means the same thing for him -- happiness. We all have our thing, his is sports.