Being on the sideline observing up close and personal Monroe’s Level 4 win in football brought a flurry of emotions to me that I normally don’t get on the sidelines. Over the last 15 years, I’ve been able to regulate my own emotional adrenaline during games. I still get excited and upset from time to time, but for the most part, the average person will just see a stone face, or at least one with a slight smile, and nothing ecstatic. After all, as journalists, we’re not supposed to pick sides.
But seeing my alma mater win such a big game, and punching a return ticket to Camp Randall was more than I thought I would feel.
As a budding child, I watched the Monroe football teams of the 90s from the fence line. Those teams invigorated me and seeded my passion for sports more than any other team/sport/player in my life.
While my time on the gridiron as a Cheesemaker never made it beyond Level 2, the program has stuck near and dear to my heart throughout the years. From the 10-year pause between playoff appearances, to the out-of-nowhere unbeaten regular season and conference title 2016 — I’ve been anxiously awaiting the program’s return to prominence.
Adding in the sustained success these past seven years, and I feel this program is not only in good hands in the short term, but for hopefully the next decade or two.
Speaking of this year by itself, it struck me right away last November that those returning Cheesemakers went right to work immediately following the Level 4 loss to Pewaukee. They had one goal, and that goal was to advance to (and win) the state championship. Since the first days of practice in fall camp, you could already see the focus and determination of the players. They were workmanlike and went about their business. During the scrimmage against New Glarus-Monticello, Monroe’s starters were seemingly scoring on every play. I turned to a couple of stunned players on the NGM sideline and said, “Don’t let it discourage you. They are going to win state in D3 this year.”
My confidence in this year’s squad is through the roof:
● Great running backs.
● Bulldozers on the offensive line — all returning from last year, too.
● A defense with athleticism and an instinct to flow to the ball.
This squad is as well-rounded as any over the last 40 years.
Toby is a fantastic coach and leader, and the assistants are all home-grown with their own involvement in the program dating back decades. Outside of Toby, only assistant Rob Schilt — my high school teammate — has never played or coached in a state championship. These other coaches on the sideline were playing in those big Camp Randall games I attended as a wee sprat, and I think about that every time I see them standing on the sideline in their headsets.
In high school I loved reading the scouting reports, and now I am the one writing the reports and game summaries everyone reads. Well, I did, anyway. As I’ve said before, with hiring fellow alum and former MHS football manager Natalie Dillon as our sports editor, I can focus more on news and administrative tasks. I’ve made myself available to cover big games when needed, but I asked her for one small favor during the transition: That I could continue as Monroe’s beat writer this season. She complied.
Not only did that mean I’ve been able to stand on the sideline nearly every week capturing these life-long memories for our community, but I get to be the one to actually document it. I’ve always loved creating special sections and state previews for all of our other teams playing other sports — but to have the opportunity to do it for this team, for this program … This is the one preview I always wanted to tackle. Sure, I would love it to be 40 pages with 15 stories — but we simply don’t have the staff today to do that. However, I am still incredibly proud of our finished product, and the main image of seniors Charlie Wiegel, Jordan Klocke, Alex Hernandez and Tucker Markham running off the field in jubilation is one of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken.
When it came time to write the Level 4 game story for the actual paper, I knew we were limited on space in the B section and that I had to keep it short. I’m notoriously long-winded for important games and stories — something that is afforded when you are the man in charge. However, given the limited space, I knew I had to tone it down. “I’ll try to keep from going over 1,000 words,” I said to Natalie. Unintentionally, it took me 29 minutes to write it front-to-back (29 was my MHS football number!). And the word count on the file? Exactly 1,000.
Now we wait until Friday. My daughter, a junior, gets to experience playing in the band at Camp Randall and her classmates playing on the field. My son, 11, will get to watch Monroe play for a state championship 26 years after I last watched Monroe play for a state championship … when I was also 11. Coincidence?
— Adam Krebs is the editor of the Monroe Times. The over-under on how many free hot dogs he consumes in the press box on Friday is set at 4.5. Adam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.