MONONA — MFL MarMac football coach Dan Anderson has experienced the excitement his team has generated.
He has witnessed the success from the sideline and the buzz at school. Most of the time when he stops at the local Kwik Star or Casey’s for a breakfast sandwich or to fill up his truck, he spends some time chatting a little prep football.
“I go uptown and stop at the gas station (and) people are talking to me about it,” said Anderson, who has helped guide the Bulldogs to their first 7-0 start. “Everybody wants to get involved. It’s great. The fans are loving it.”
Fourth-ranked MFL MarMac, assured its first winning season since 1993, will host undoubtedly the biggest game in program history when it takes on No. 5 Edgewood-Colesburg in a Class A District 5 showdown Friday at MFL MarMac High School.
The Bulldogs expect a huge crowd for the title matchup. They have received a boost from the growing support from the area communities.
“It’s been amazing,” senior running back Kutter Anderson said. “The whole community is in on this … We’re probably going to have to pull in some more bleachers. It’s going to be packed. The guys, the community and coaches are excited”
The Bulldogs are unbeaten and 3-0 in the district. The Vikings are 6-1 overall without a loss to a Class A team, sharing the same district mark.
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MFL MarMac remained in contention for a district title at this time last year when Ed-Co thumped the Bulldogs, 40-6. Their preseason goal was a district championship and they knew it had to go through the returning state semifinalist Vikings, who are looking for their first back-to-back playoff berths since 2005-06.
“We’ve been waiting for this all year,” Kutter said. “I can’t lie to you. Before the season, this was kind of a game we had marked on our calendar. If we’re going to have a championship game, this is the one right here.”
The result is the biggest athletic event in Monona since former Kansas Coach Roy Williams came to watch former MFL MarMac basketball standout and future NBA player Raef LaFrentz play.
“We know the importance of this game,” Dan Anderson said. “We’re trying to keep level heads and focusing on what is right in front of us. We’re trying to make sure the kids don’t get too high or too low.”
The entire program has experienced success. The junior varsity squad is 5-2 and Dan Anderson said the junior high teams were undefeated. The impact was evident when he opened the weight room for early morning workouts and seven seventh-graders were waiting to train.
“I point out that we have kids who are bigger, faster and stronger than last year,” Anderson said. “It’s not by chance. It’s because the kids work hard.
“Success breeds success. It’s pretty exciting for the future.”
The Bulldogs have taken care of business to date and have a chance to secure the program’s second postseason berth and first since 2010. The Bulldogs have avoided distractions like homecoming, overconfidence and stats talk.
“We’ve been playing well every week,” Dan Anderson said. “The kids have stayed focused.”
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MFL MarMac has been impressive offensively, ranking sixth among Class A teams with 2,017 rushing yards, translating to about 288 per game. The Bulldogs are fifth in the class with 2,837 total yards and fourth in scoring with 39.9 points per game.
The defense has been almost as strong, ranking second in Class A with 13 interceptions — one spot and pick ahead of Ed-Co. The Bulldogs allow just 10.6 points per game with two shutouts.
“It is offense, defense and special teams,” the elder Anderson said. “They’ve all been doing their parts. It’s a total effort by everybody.”
Coach Anderson said the Bulldogs utilize multiple carriers and receivers, spreading the ball around and preventing defenses from keying on one player. Eight Bulldogs have a rush and six have scored TDs. Eight more have caught a pass and four of them have reached the end zone.
Kutter leads the rush attack with 841 yards and 12 TDs. He averages 8.9 per carry. MFL MarMac is fourth in Class A with a 7.2-yard average per carry.
“It starts with the guys up front,” Kutter said. “They work hard every day.
“They are always ready to go and they are a huge part of our offense, especially in the run game. They’re opening big holes for me and I’m just taking advantage of them.”
The unprecedented success hasn’t gone to the Bulldogs’ heads. They know they face a tougher challenge than they have crossed all season. The approach remains the same even though they are in unchartered waters.
“We’re still laughing, telling jokes in practice,” Dan Anderson said. “We get serious when we need to but still joke around and laugh. The kids listen and have fun. I want the total experience to be good. So far, it has been. We’re just learning as we go.”
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