The football season is winding down for high school and college teams. For the Menomonie Mustangs, they battled their way into the playoffs.
A characteristic of the teams that remain in the playoffs is that they are a group of close friends playing the game that they love. The Menomonie Mustangs are the epitome of this. Mustang’s coach, Joe LaBuda, says that the team has a specific theme that describes how close the group is.
“The mindset of the team for the year has been the theme, ‘Band of Brothers’ since it is a very close-knit group of kids. We have had our ups and downs this season,” said LaBuda. “Halfway through the season, we lost two consecutive games. We did not play well those two weeks—partly due to our team getting hit hard with the flu—but that was not the sole reason, we just did not perform well.”
LaBuda said that the team’s chemistry has helped them stick together and power through the rough patches of the season to defeat key opponents in their conference.
“Our players stuck together and did not point any fingers. Then they came back to beat a very good Eau Claire Memorial team and then upset Chippewa Falls, the Big Rivers Conference (BRC) champion, in week eight,” said LaBuda.
LaBuda’s Mustangs entered the playoffs with a 7-2 record—earning them the fourth seed in their bracket. They came from behind to defeat Ashwaubenon in the first round to advance to the second round to face off against De Pere.
The Mustangs advanced to the third round of the Division 2 playoffs by defeating the number one seed De Pere in a rout by a score of 49-8. De Pere entered the game undefeated, but the fourth-seeded Mustangs were unfazed, and gained control of the game right away.
LaBuda says that defeating the top seed in their bracket helped the kids gain confidence, and proved how tough their conference is.
“After beating the top seed De Pere, I think we did gain some confidence. But it mainly showed how incredibly tough the BRC was this year,” said LaBuda. Sadly, the Mustangs lost to Chippewa Falls in the third round of the playoffs. They put up a good fight, but they lost 17-6 at the hands of Cardinals Friday Nov. 6.