Hard work spells great success for Panther gridders

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth football team’s outstanding work ethic played a critical role in the Panthers’ memorable 2013 season.

The Panthers won their second straight Eastern Wisconsin Conference championship – both times with 7-0 records – and fourth in the past five years. PHS, which finished 10-2 overall, advanced to the Division 3 state quarterfi- nals (level 3) for the second consecutive season.

“I thought we had a very good season. We all would have liked to reach the ultimate goal [state title] but it just didn’t happen for us this season,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus.

“But looking back on everything, we can all be proud of what was accomplished.”

Knaus pointed out what he felt were the keys to the team’s very successful campaign:

“Having dedicated kids who have lots of athletic ability but they also understand that hard work is the way to stay ahead of the competition.”

Knaus said the highlights of the season were winning the EWC crown undefeated again, reaching level 3 of the state playoffs and beating perennial state power Wisconsin Lutheran, 21-7, in the second round of the playoffs.

The coach commented on what it meant to him and the team to repeat as league champions and reach the state quarterfinals again.

“It was a great accomplishment it was one of our goals. It is all a direct reflection of the players’ hard work,” he said.

While several Panthers earned All-EWC, All-Region and All- State honors, Knaus emphasized that those honors are a reflection of the team’s success.

“All awards and accolades are reflections of the team. While we had many great individual accomplishments, they are team accomplishments as well,” he said.

Knaus appreciated his assistant coaches’ work, help from several individuals and all the support the team received this past season.

“I’d like to thank all of my assistants, especially Gale Grahn [offensive coordinator] who puts endless hours into the program; and Mitch Adams, Andy Tauschek, Josh Oppeneer and Kevin Rortvedt for their help filming and keeping stats,” said Knaus.

“And thank-you to all the students and community who supported us and followed the team on the road.”

Knaus thinks next season can also be a successful one if the players work hard in the off-season.

“While we lose a ton of talent that will be missed, we have the next-up philosophy,” he noted.

“If the current players work as hard in the off-season as the previous teams have, they should have similar expectations for success. We can usually tell by our total numbers out for the team and then the percentage of them that show up to off-season workouts what our success will be.”

AWARDS, FINAL

STATS

Senior quarterback/ defensive back Kollin Neils was voted the Panthers’ Most Valuable Player by his teammates for the 2013 season. Neils was named the EWC’s Offensive Player of the Year and All-State honorable mention at quarterback.

Neils had a sensational season at quarterback – passing for a school-record 2,266 yards and 24 touchdowns. He had an impressive 68.3 completion percentage. Neils is Plymouth’s career leader in passing yardage with an outstanding 5,443 yards.

The Panthers’ other award-winners include: junior linebacker Tyler Willeford, Most Valuable Defensive Player; senior tailback Brad Trakel, Most Valuable Offensive Player; senior guard/defensive end Luke Held, Most Valuable Lineman; and junior running back/linebacker Izack Ohman, Most Improved.

Neils, Held, senior split end/defensive back Clay Henning and senior offensive/ defensive lineman Zack Bradley were voted permanent team captains by the Panthers who also voted on the other awards.

Junior wide receiver Zac Cain set a PHS record for the receiving yardage in one season with an impressive 901 (14.8 average per catch). His 61 receptions this past year ranks No. 2 all-time at PHS.

Cain led the Panthers in scoring with 78 points on 13 TD catches.

Willeford paced PHS in total tackles with 97 and solo tackles, 59. Willeford and Held led the Panther defense in quarterback sacks with four each. Senior linebacker Cody Hoffmann had a team-high 14 tackles for losses.

The Panthers, who had an explosive offense – passing and rushing – and a strong defense, outscored their opposition by an outstanding 377-150. PHS averaged 31.4 points per game on offense and allowed 12.5 per game on defense.

PHS Varsity Letter Winners

Seniors – Trevor Miske, Collin Denzin, Jack Heginbottom, Kollin Neils, Clay Henning, Brad Trakel, Denton Saladini, Zack Bradley, Westley Meinnert, Luke Held, Justin Picard, Nick Hildebrand, Brody Reichardt, Ben Albers, Cody Hoffmann, Dylan Ermer, Isaac Zimmermann, Trevor Jensema, Henry Heim, Adam Schmitz, Mikko Liuksiala, Aaron Unger and Zach Lederer.

Juniors – Tyler Willeford, Zac Cain, Izack Ohman, Matt Olig, Brian Cecka, Lucas Johnson, Michael Birenbaum, Zack Klabachek, Cole Bruggink, Pat Lemkuil, Cole Meyer, Brad Grapentine, Alex Lefeber and Nick Schultz.

Sophomores – Jake Schneider, Gabe Meyer, Samuel Staehling, Jared Weinbauer and Davon Mayer.

FINAL PLYMOUTH
FOOTBALL STATISTICS
Rushing Leaders

Yds. TDs
Brad Trakel………...….........791 10
Kollin Neils…………….........520 8

Passing Leaders

Yds. TDs
Kollin Neils……………..…....2266 24

Receiving Leaders

No. Yds.
Zac Cain………................…...61 901
Tyler Willeford.........................37 402
Dominic Bocchini....................15 301

Scoring Leaders

Pts.
Cain………………….…….................78
Trakel................................................60

Interception Leaders

No.
Brody Reichardt…….…..............….....4
Justin Picard.…….…….…..................2
Collin Denzin...….…….…...................2

Tackle Leaders

No.
Willeford……….…………............….97
Luke Held...........………....................75
Cody Hoffmann.………......................64


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