What a difference 10 years can make

By Dan Truttschel

Correspondent

As a competitor, Big Foot head football coach Rodney Wedig certainly expected to succeed when he arrived on the scene 10 years ago.

But to say he planned on making three trips to the state finals – with one win heading into Thursday night’s tilt in Madison?

Not even he could have seen that coming, but facts are facts, and one thing is certain. The program clearly is considered as one of the state’s best.

But it hasn’t come without plenty of hard work and sacrifice by many, many people, because seeing the Chiefs on top of the state football world hasn’t always been a foregone conclusion.

Back when I came to Lake Geneva in 1994 to work as the sports editor at the weekly paper there, the Big Foot football team was an afterthought. The Chiefs beat Badger that year, which shocked everybody, but other than that minor moment of success, Big Foot football had virtually nothing working in its favor.

And that’s how it stayed for several years, as numbers dwindled and victories were few and far between.

But almost immediately when Wedig took over, something changed in the culture over there in Walworth. Kids started believing – and became willing to put the work in to succeed.

And now look where the Chiefs are.

Even Wedig said this week that he has to give himself a chance to look back on the journey as a whole.

“Sometimes you get so focused on winning the last game, you lose sight of some of the successes in the past,” he said. “I said this season’s trip is almost more fulfilling because I realize what an accomplishment it is to be there once, let alone three times.

“It is really more than I ever expected when I took this job 10 years ago.”

And Wedig certainly doesn’t forget the assistant coaches on his staff, many of whom have been with him his entire tenure.

It goes back to building a program from top to bottom, and that includes everybody pulling on the rope in the same direction, as they say.

“We have had a good group of hard-working kids that have bought into the system and believe in what we as a staff do,” Wedig said. “As a staff, we have continued to improve.

“We made it to state in 2008, and then revamped our entire blocking scheme to try to get more from our big guys. Two years ago, we went to the no-huddle. This year we changed the passing game to fit Carter (Hehr’s) needs.

“I think it is all about getting kids to believe in the program, and then to continue to improve and update. As I tell the freshmen parents, ‘If your son will work hard and be coachable, we will make them a good player.”

For two years, I had the privilege of working alongside Wedig and the staff as a volunteer coach, and I can say without hesitation that everything he mentioned about the program is dead on.

There may be other staffs out there that can claim similar successes, but for my money, that staff over there in Walworth is one of the best.

And the proof is in the pudding. Three state trips in five seasons is an amazing feat. This article will run after the final score has been decided Thursday, but to me, there’s no way the Chiefs will do anything but bring home the title.

And that’s to take nothing away from the Chiefs’ opponent, Somerset, a quality team in its own right.

It’s just that Big Foot is that good – what a difference 10 years can make.

And it’s a chance for this team to go down in the history books, Wedig said.

“It would be unbelievable, and as I told the kids, if we win this game, I will be talking about this team for many years to come at numerous clinics because they are a prime example that intelligence and hard work allows you to accomplish almost anything you want to,” he said.

Isn’t that the truth.

 

 
 

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