Panther program makes strong statement over last two years

Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

DAN KNAUS, Plymouth head football coach, talks to his team after the Panthers’ 41-27 loss to Greendale in the state playoffs Friday night. — Photo by Clare Sedlacek DAN KNAUS, Plymouth head football coach, talks to his team after the Panthers’ 41-27 loss to Greendale in the state playoffs Friday night. — Photo by Clare Sedlacek PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Panther football program has taken big steps forward the past two seasons, reaching the state quarterfinals (Level 3) in back-to-back years.

PHS gave unbeaten Greendale all it could handle before losing, 41-27, in a Division 3 playoff game Friday night. This year and in 2012, the Panthers went farther in the state playoffs than any other PHS team since 1978 when Plymouth won a state title.

“I think we showed that our program and this team can play with anyone in the state, and our kids play with great heart and intensity,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus whose team finished 10-2 this year and 10-1 in 2012.

Knaus thinks the state playoff experience for the Panthers the past two seasons will benefit the program.

“The last two years will hopefully show the younger players in the program and community just how close we are to becoming a state champion-caliber team,” he said.

“The other huge benefit to making it to the third round two years in a row is six exby tra games and countless extra practices that our younger players had because of it.”

Panther senior quarterback Kollin Neils is proud of what his team has accomplished the past two seasons which also included Eastern Wisconsin Conference titles (unbeaten in the league both years).

“This whole season was a team effort with everyone working hard. All of the off-season work paid off,” said Neils.

“It’s awesome [reaching the state quarterfinals two straight years].

It helps the program a lot.

It’s a great accomplishment to do that two years in a row. “This proves that Plymouth is an elite program that can play with anyone,” said Neils.

“We weren’t the biggest team but we were able to compete with the bigger teams. We set a good example for the younger players to work hard in the offseason. “We fell a little short of our ultimate goal [winning the state championship] but we achieved a lot of our smaller goals the past two years.

“Everyone was down after the Greendale game but we realize that it was still a very successful season,” said Neils.

“I thought we played a tough game and played our hardest. They made a couple more plays than we did. Their long touchdowns were momentum-killers.

“I couldn’t be any more proud of the team [against Greendale]. It was a team effort,” said Neils.

“Everyone involved in the program worked as hard as they could to get beyond but it just didn’t happen for us this year,” said Knaus about the team not advancing farther in the playoffs than last year.

Knaus said it’s a great achievement to make it to Level 3 two consecutive years.

“It is a credit to the hard work these young men put in,” he said.

The Plymouth football team appreciated the fans’ support this year.

“I think a high school football season can bring a community together like no other sport,” said Knaus. “We are blessed here in Plymouth to have such great support and we love having big crowds cheering us on. I know the boys really appreciate it.”

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