Lake Superior Sectionals – Whitewater, WI
The Hodags were feeling nervous about how the season was going. Those tragic loses at Centex had shaken the confidence of the team, as had the weather. It was the worst winter in Wisconsin history, snowing over 100 inches and raining when it was warm enough. The fields were beyond waterlogged, canceling practice on University Bay Fields, and pushing it to exotic sites all over the city. The Hodags had a good plan to prepare for Regionals. It involved winning sectionals, then playing the alumni and Blue/Black scrimmages as showcase games during the Memorial High School Mudbath tournament, to prepare for the atmosphere like Regional finals against Carleton. It was an organized assault by the Hodags to prime for just one game on Sunday. However, the rain came in waves and forced Whitewater to cancel Sectionals, pushing it back a week and making Sectionals/Regionals in back-to-back weekends. This was not an ideal situation for Wisconsin – who had been focusing on peaking this tournament all year. Instead it caused the Hodags to play the alumni game at Sectionals, completely missing the opportunity to recruit at the Memorial HS tournament and to reschedule the Blue/Black Spring Scrimmage until after Regionals. Despite all the factors working against the Hodags, the goal for the season was clear – win the rest. The real season was upon the Hodags and now every game was elimination. Shane reminded the team that every game we play now, is more important than any game we have played all season!
In the days leading up to the Lake Superior Sectionals, the Hodags were struggling to get numbers at practice. Tim Pearce was visiting his lady friend in Minnesota, while Chris Doede was in the middle of his 30-35th tests, still far from the 55 total scheduled for this year. Other Hodags were beaten up from Centex and Spring Break, making it pretty regular to have no subs all practice. And then there was the problem of actually finding grass to play on. The UW Fitness Club had already lost their indoor time and now they were going to ruin the only fields they could get. Even when the Hodags could practice, it was sinking into inches of deep mud with either 30 degree temperatures or a brutal rainy crosswind. It wasn’t looking good and the Lake Superior Sectional was looking harder than ever.
But the captains were very purposeful in their preparation – holding team meetings to reinforce the team goals, lashing freshman with spiked whips after practice for coming late, and making the team run the Randy Doss Drill until Hodags were bent over in exhaustion. The injured Hodags were forced to do push-ups on the sideline and occasionally roar to encourage those still playing. In the days leading up to Sectionals, it was imperative for most Hodags to quickly find a costume. It would be a Sober Saturday, something the 5th years knew nothing about because it had previously been Silly Saturday at Sectionals. Wisconsin arrived to the fields with plenty of time to prepare, mostly milling around tournament central booting the kickball and visiting with Whitewater and Milwaukee. The Pimpdags’ season would be on the line today, while the only thing on the minds of Hodags was the most exciting way to score a goal. The only drill the Hodags ran was an upside-down Seattle Drill, just moments before game time. John Bergen was stuffing Egg McMuffin’s in his face while the rest of the team was doing dynamic, refusing to seriously prepare for any of these games. Soon it was the first point against Lawrence “Soft in the Middle” a stout performer in the Wisconsin Sectional. As 7 Hodags strutted onto the field, something became apparent – they were all wearing costumes… elaborate, creative, ridiculous outfits. Pat the Panda took the first pull as Biker Rebholz in his skullcap and Snakeskin leather jacket readied himself to put on an X-games demonstration. But there was a strong supporting cast including: Lokke the Leprechaun, Shane the Spandex, Chris Doede the Hodag Defensive Stud, Turtle the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Cullen the Monk, Feldman the Desperate for Attention Housewife, Bergen in red leather pants, and Matt Crumb evolving from a waitress to Bret Favre, to Animal as the day progressed. The first game against Lawrence could start no other way then with Captain Biker hitting Captain Pimp J-Fo with a big hammer for the 1st score of Sectionals. It wasn’t half as good as last year’s Shane full field fuzz to Bobby Lau for the 1st score, but it was a decent start. Within moments the Hodags had asserted themselves as full fledge all-stars and decided to make the objective for each point a challenge of ridiculous nature. If you wanted to score, it had to be fantastic and entertaining, at risk of being booed into oblivion by the sideline. Morfin wanted to set the bar high, as dominating Sectionals was some of the most fun of the season. Like a kid in a candy store, Morfin was keen to take deep cuts left and right, and bomb huge hammers whenever possible. The O and D lines forgotten, the Hodags leave it to first 7 on the line get to play, allowing Muffin to get a catch D and bomb a huck to Rebholz 2-0. K-Federation wants in the action and sends a huge blade hammer pull, hollering “Coming right back at ya!” Animal skies for the hammer and then whips a 30-yard invert flick for the Andy Holt sky complete with his Kanye Glasses 3-0. Shane notices that bash brother Fat Bill looked as though he could not care less as he waddled about the field. Then with the defensive intensity of any average leprechaun, Lokke gets a hand block from at least 5 feet away, as Animal scoobers to Riley 4-0. Things are spiraling out of control for Lawrence who can barely keep their jaws from dropping as K-Federation drops a huge hammer for a Golden Hand Moment as Skywalker triumphantly pwnd 2 Soft in the Middle simultaneously 5-0. Shane finally makes an appearance on the field and promptly bombs the biggest thumber hot fuzz piece of work to Pat the Panda who catches it 6-0. Then there was Feldman, he was the first Hodag scored upon, but Wisconsin was in control 7-1. Jon Masler looked badass with a Hodag tail and muscle jacket as he bombed a ridiculous backhand rocket to the Morfin 8-1. Hollywood is looking for retribution, but pulls back a thumber at the last moment, deciding it was a bad decision before throwing a terrible hammer instead. Lokke gets the D and bombs to Rebholz, who tries to greatest but is dropped by Bergen! Then Morfin got a layout D and everybody laughed. It was time for the set plays. Animal was running the wrap completely in camouflage, and missed the Feldman no look push pass that almost hit his face. Monster Masler gets a run through catch D and puts in the scoober to lead 9-1. Lawrence is running out of questions as they fake a push pass high release that would have assuredly been a Callahan. The Hodags decide to tone it down and play fairly. Rebholz lined up a 25-yard lefty flick, but it was no good. Soft in the Middle had not perhaps completed a handful of passes through Wisconsin’s zone all morning, but they were still giving Lokke the fits. Will was attempting game changing huge hucks on greatest attempts in the middle of the field, throwing poor 500 balls that were terribly misread, until Morfin ruined everything and caught the swill 11-3. A nearby Milwaukee School of Engineering player, who was at his first tournament ever, looked over at the Hodags questioning, “Is this a real game? Does this count?” He couldn’t tell whether the Hodags were playing for real with all the costumes and ridiculous attempted throws. The game ended quite absurdly as Rebholz put a flick through his and his mark’s legs for a 40-yard sky goal 13-3. But the Hodags weren’t satisfied and challenged Lawrence promptly to game of kickball. Just 50 yards away was a perfectly sized softball field, so 5 innings of play went down as Lawrence held a 3-1 lead deep into the bottom of the 4th. Wisconsin had no answer for the consecutive double and triple down the line and it really looked hopeless at Lawrence pitcher was an ace. With 2 outs and the based loaded Matt Rebholz steps up to the plate. With his size 22’s and look of determination, the Rebel Rousa clears the bases up the middle, propelling the Hodags to a late comeback win and sweep of Soft in the Middle. It was a great day to be a Hodag and half of the team celebrated, by going back to McDonald’s between rounds. The second game against Stevens Point Homegrown was much more serious as they had a big tall athlete baller. This kid was huge, could sky, throw, jump, and bid – Callahan shortlist right here. But as the Hodags start playing, all of the cuts are out as every Hodag is trying to score on the big ridiculous catch. Wisconsin was cruising and maybe Homegrown was having some fun as their turns and throwaways were matched by the Hodag’s lefty’s, greatest’s, scoobers, mack line and fuzz. Tom Murray sets the tone for the game as he attempts a huge big after a greatest throw in the end zone, complete with his Baby Blue Pony outfit. The mack line makes several efforts, but none are successful as points drag on. However, Wisconsin did take the third OATBAG of the day as the score said 10-2, but Stevens Point was playing tough. They were outraged when Matt Crumb, wearing his Packer’s #22 Jersey got a layout D in the lane, when SP was also wearing dark green. The Teacher Taco only stuck out his tongue and made monkey faces, gesturing hand block and snapping his fingers as Wisconsin extended it to 12-3. However, in a last ditch effort, the stud athlete X makes a deep cut and the throw goes up. Animal is poaching from somewhere and steps in the path of the rumbling giant. It is a gruesome sight, like road kill, as the Animal is trampled completely over. The catch is immaculate to make it 12-4, and Animal is carted off the field. The game is ended quickly and the funeral date was set, as the Hodags won 13-4. At this point, the Hodags packed up camp and moved halfway across the campus to set up a new field with ditches in both end zones, ready to play the Hodag Alumni Game. Several alums joked about how long it would take for the Hodags to strip their costumes, needing full mobility to keep up with a team stacked with National Champions. Dan Miller was looking dapper and Bryan Paradise was commanding his troops in Baby Blue. Andrew Brown, Dan Heijmen, and Tom Burkly were controlling the O line as Tim Pearce was scoring goals for the college Hodags. An early turnover, gave the college team a chance to strike as Jon Masler bombed a full field backhand to Cullen, who skied Heijmen for a break, but not before Scallet calls the travel, craftily denying the score. Ben Feldman tossed a shady looking high release flick, but Tim Pearce was still scoring easily tying the game at 3-3. Tyler Splinder was scoring goals deep from Mike Lang as the Belladonna were supporting from the sidelines. Matt Rebholz continued to hit Tim Pearce deep on the non-ditch side, as Andrew Brown was visibly shaken and Dan Miller was bent over in exhaustion at 5-4 Hodags. Matt Crumb made a huge sky D on a Scallet huck as the Hodags were in business. Bucket attempts the Double Happiness to Crumb, but the flick is OB. A low pass is dropped by Tyler and Bucket finishes O2 to Murda as the Hodags lead 6-4. Dan Heijmen ripped a backhand deep to Jack Marsh to bring the game back to 6-5. A Kevin Riley hammer to gain yards and an Evan Klane finish to Hodags at 7-5. Jack Marsh continued to take us deep and Paradise finished from a Brown high release flick to make it 7-6. The game becomes sloppy as the alumni break, but Foster skies for half 8-7 college kids. Tom Murda makes a nice deep D and Dan Miller takes down a poach D. Jack Marsh continues to dominate the game, getting a layout D on the goal line to save a hold. The college Hodags used some strategy in the backfield, stranding Andrew Brown with the disc on the cone, and then forcing in a break to extend the lead. John Bergen was running sets immaculately, collecting O2 goals, while Animal hucked a disc deep to an undercut. Dean Bolton put in a couple of goals late as Kevin Riley as resigned to sing out loud on the sideline to anyone who would listen. The alumni play a classy game, not contesting close fouls and giving the college easy goals as they took the lead late in the game. However, the alumni were abusing our marks in general, putting pressure on the O-face to finish the game 15-12. The Hodags brought in a 50 player huddle and the usual suspects needed to address Hodags young and old. Even Dan Heijmen needed to lecture the current team about how to win a National Championship and how the team should be coming together. Riley and Foster sighed audibly, knowing the Heijmen’s never ending inspirational speeches wouldn’t end for several weeks yet. Heijmen was forced the give the college team the pep talk they deserved and reinforced the message that sometimes gets overlooked in Hodag camp, “You guys are really good. Just believe that and play to have fun.” Hodags left and right can’t stop but smile as the Alumni wish the Hodags good luck and that they will see them in Madison for a BBQ later that night. The Hodags make the trek back to the original field for the day, but several Hodags become trapped and get lost on the short walk.
The Hodags return to find Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSoE) ready to play. After the tough game against an experienced alumni team, this was a cakewalk. However, the game broke down into a contest of 500, with most of the defense falling back to protect the end zone. Wisconsin was cruising so easily, several points were converted with set play backwards pizza tosses through the legs, cartwheel catches, and a forced greatest conversion. It was topped by a huge Rebholz flick huck through his legs deep to Riley. K-Fed was about to clap the disc, when a high flying Animal swoops in for the smack D right in Kevin’s face, revenge from practice earlier in the week, when K-Fed got Animal in the air twice in a row. The Hodag sideline burst into the cheers and Riley was heckled so badly, he collapsed into a Bucket form right on the field. As Wisconsin had taken a 6-0 start and were looking good at 11-2, began losing interest in the game and playing 5 or 6 Hodags at a time. It seemed pretty fair because MSoE was playing 1-2 girls most of the game. As Wisconsin finished 13-2, the same MSoE player who was completely new to an ultimate tournament had to stop and confess, “Wow, you guys are like the Harlem Globetrotters of ultimate,” as the Hodags completed greatest, bombs, and bitchings in every which direction. The last game of the day was against Eau Claire, for a spot in quarterfinals the next morning. The Hodags weren’t very excited about the format for Sectionals, because none of the Hodags wanted to play 3 games on Sunday. Eau Claire was running sets, had experienced players, and #7 Fudge was dominating all over. The Hodag zone was getting thrashed including one thrower breaking K-Fed with a nutmeg. However the sheer intensity and might of the Hodags propel them forward to an uneventful 13-6 win. Eau Claire was moving the disc well and deservingly traded with the Hodags for parts of the game. Wisconsin watched the Pimpdags finish and cheered, before hurrying home to Madison to eat dinner and spend the evening with the alumni. Most Hodags would only collected a few precious hours of sleep, before heading back to Whitewater in the very early morning. It is a grumpy warm up and first game, as some Hodags don’t even want to cleat up or jog. It turned out that the Hodags were playing Beloit, who had just edged out Wisconsin C in pre-quarters late on Saturday, despite Frederick’s best efforts. The lines remain very open and the Squirtle Squad is landing punishing blows. The final score is 15-2 as Wisconsin has OATBAG’ed every opponent except Eau Claire to this point in the weekend. Wisconsin has more fans on Sunday and has plenty of time to cheer on the Pimpdags, who are battling Marquette for the chance to play the Hodags in semifinals. The game goes down to the wire, but Marquette finishes strong winning 13-10 and sending the Pimpdags into the backdoor bracket. Madison gets in a last minute Dragon strike and Seattle Drill before beginning. Marquette is outmatched, but manage to score consistently, as Madison leads 5-2. At times it takes 3 Marquette defenders to guard Jim Foster as Tim Pearce flies under the radar for several goals 7-3. Muffin tosses a beautiful flick out to space after catching a huck deep. Marquette player Fran Kelley exclaims to his main handler, “Hey, why don’t you throw like that?” referring to several previous huck blades which gave the receiver no chance. However, it wouldn’t be all fun and games as Doede lambastes Morfin for getting scored on twice on Sunday. At this point, King Dedede starts freaking about during a timeout – screaming about poaching. Chris, who had missed the memo, to dress up, didn’t realize that the Defense was still breaking with 6 players on the line. Wisconsin continues to play the lines open and finish strong 15-6. Finally, Wisconsin was in the finals of Sectionals and they made the trek into the Whitewater Warhawks Perkins Stadium. The home team Sub Par was set to play the defending National Champion Hodags on the school football field. Wisconsin started on Offense and worked the whole field before a goal line turnover. Sub Par hucked the disc deep, but Evan Klane gobbled up the D, halting Whitewater’s initial surge of energy. Riley bombed a huge flick deep to Lokke for the first goal 1-0, but Jamie Bauer streaked deep to catch an Ari flick bomb to tie it 1-1. Rebholz tried a deep bomb to Feldman, but Whitewater got a poach sky D. Rebholz and Riley slowed it down in the back field and scored easily as Bucket hauled in the goal 2-1. Cullen Geppert makes a nasty layout D on an O2 scoring cut, giving Wisconsin the chance to blow it wide open. An O2 to Masler up the line, a Shane in-cut down the line had the D jamming it hard down the line. Shane winds up and unleashes a big time flick. The C Monster closes in and at full extension grabs the disc inches off the ground for the upwind break 3-1 Hodags. That kind of Double Happiness had Wisconsin foaming at the mouth as the Defense went into a rampage, stifling Whitewater’s offensive set. Ari, Strohm, and Schleicher were running hard, but not making any headway against a sling blade/no O2 strategy. Morfin bombs a perfect 75 yard flick that hits Andy Holt in the face, before he drops it, leaving the game at 3-2. McSchlokke fires a deep flick; only for Mike Swain to army patrol the skies with a soaring D. Eventually Wisconsin gets it back allowing Matt Rebholz to hit Riley O2 for the finish 4-2. Whitewater reverts to jacking it deep and Chris Doede makes his second D of the game, closing ground of 5 yards before the over the shoulder layout D. Muffin hits Shane for an under, who rifles a deep laser looping flick – make Matt Crumb stick a one handed full extension layout catch straddling the end zone and taking a time out injury sub, on a throwing originally called "too far" from the sideline. Wisconsin sends in Bucket, who calls a foul, and then throws a cross field hammer to Muffin for the score 5-2, as the sideline screams at Riley in fury for thinking about throwing hammers. Foster gets all up in K-Fed’s face and Schlokke even wiggles a fat finger in his direction, scoffing as his decision making and ironically calling Riley “fat” during their disagreement. Whitewater continues to miss deep on a break side huck as Muffin saves Marshall and Murray who had both been brutally trapped on the sideline. However, the Squirtle Squad wasn’t giving Morfin many options and was forced to rocket a stall 9 inside-out backhand deep to space, that Tom Murda brought down for the break 6-2. Sub Par burns a timeout to stop the bleeding and to give their fan base a breath before the Hodags continued the onslaught. Diablo gets roasted O2 by Ari and Whitewater scored to make it 6-3. Sub Par hucks it deep for a break and Randy Richgels skies the pile with a tomahawk spike, but Kevin Riley brings back the score on a travel call. UW-W is devastated by the turn of events, as Ben Feldman drops a 50 yard flick to Jimmy Foster to make it 7-3. Wisconsin pseudo-stacks the line to steal half as Muffin bombs a perfectly placed flick to space for Matt Crumb to clap 8-3 Hodags. Wisconsin picked up right where they left off in the second half as Riley put a flick so deep that Tim Pearce was able to outrun all 3 defenders for the goal 9-3. Ari tries another flick huck, but Cullen gets in the lane and jumps to 10’3 to D the disc in the lane. Muffin eventually bombs a deep hammer to Shane vs. Schleicher. The hammer is well placed to the back, but Shane stumbles on the double helix and drops the basket catch as he contacts the ground, letting Sub Par escape a for sure break. Rebholz gives Morfin the business from the sideline, something about good choices and not throwing hammers, letting Whitewater score 9-4. Animal was injured ever since Stevens Point best stud trampled him, was heckling the Offense with the camera until Riley hucked deep to Feldman who scored to make it 10-5 Hodags. Chris Doede collected his 3rd deep D of the game and Muffin jacked a full field flick to a wide open Diablo Donovan, who dumps to Jon Marshall. At stall 9, nobody else has ran down field, stranding Marshall and forcing him to toss up a desperation flick. He picked a good target as 6’7 Diablo skied the pack of players with his feet barely leaving the ground 11-5 Hodags. Sub Par hucked past their receiver deep again and Muffin tried to a set play to get the disc to a cutter, however, Morfin accidentally called Schleicher as the defender, who promptly baited and got a nasty under layout D, getting revenge on Tom Murray for the ruthless layout D at Eau Claire in quarterfinals. Whitewater scored, but the game was well in hand as even Tim Pearce made a goal saving layout D. The momentum of the weekend was summed up in Marshall's play, so confident he was pointing deep when cutting for Tom Murray's backhand. Wisconsin cruised to a 13-6 victory, capped by the DIII Whitewater Football team needing to start practice. They looked pretty scary, so the ultimate teams relented and hurried from the stadium. Wisconsin had secured the #1 seed at Central Regionals and promptly had a team meeting in the pavilion after applauding their fans and support. The Hodags had an open forum where every Hodag had their chance to speak with the Bushmills and reinforce the season up until this point. Wisconsin still needed to prepare for Regionals in less than a week and even select their Callahan nominee. Per usual most 5th years were nominated as Foster pushed Rebholz immediately, only for Animal to nominate Muffin, leaving Mahowald and Riley to nominate each other. Shane, Lokke, and Doede were also added to the list as the choices became most comprehensive. The veterans on the team went off to chill and plan how best to give the Goat to the underclassmen who were left to decide. Four hours later the Hodags had finalized Rebholz as the Callahan and then stripped for ‘shirts off’ team picture to celebrate the occasion. Rebholz tightly toed the line of “pulling a Miller” but delivered a moving tribute to the team and the tournament.
Central Regionals - Luther Campus Decorah, Iowa
As Wisconsin returned home to celebrate and shift the focus briefly to school, the season became more exciting than ever. It was the home stretch, the final week before the decision to attend Nationals would be made. But Global Warming had something else to say, as the weather took a nasty turn; snowing, sleeting, and raining in 5 of the next 6 days, almost postponing Regionals entirely for the weekend. But there was no way, the pressure of performing at Central Regionals was building. The emails from the alumni urging us on, the messages from players saying they couldn’t come to practice, and then then injuries piling up left and right, all adding to the factors working against Wisconsin. Even the players at practice had to endure deep soggy mud, and drilling/playing became interesting/ridiculous events, especially when cup members run around the big puddles and leave gaping holes in the cup. On Thursday, the wind, cold, and rain had finally overtaken the O line, which couldn’t break so much as a 6-person Squirtle Squad Zone. In 15 straight possessions, the O scored once. Muffin watched, bewildered how 7 awesome players couldn't manage to score in a little wind. All week the rising expectations and confidence of the Hodags was insuppressible, but now just hours before Regionals, the Offense was crumbling to pieces. Despite the late setbacks, Wisconsin was confident and ready coming into the weekend. The team had a Friday breakfast in two sessions at Mickies Dairy Bar, a good excuse to bond with the team and skip class. Muffin missed his ride to Decorah because he hair wasn’t finished yet and roommates heard something like, “have to look good, to play good,” as they walked out the door. Despite the craziness of driving to Iowa and the weather threatening tornadoes, Wisconsin packed every warm weather article they possessed. As it turned out, Mother Nature remembered exactly which weekend Central Regionals was as she dropped the thermometer to 30 degrees and very windy. It apparently went down to a coin flip whether to cancel on Friday afternoon, and over 75% of the fields were totally unusable. The format was straight bracket starting in pre-quarters, so that meant a short weekend and only a few games. However, with the closure of fields, the schedule had to be totally redone. Again it was a coin flip for which gender began games at 8am or 12noon. The boys lost the flip and were forced to wake up and be at the fields, 7am Saturday on Luther campus in Iowa. Furthermore, the fields that were available were still soaked to the bone, forcing the Hodags to move fields 3 times and get only in a half-ass warm-up. The rest of the complex was literally under water as small lakes sprang up left and right. It was terribly cold and windy ridiculous. The field changed up cross-wind to upwind-downwind moments before the round was set to start and Wisconsin looked like a team confused as the "dark" Hodags were wearing whatever color sweatshirts/coats they had packed.