Losing year dampens feats accomplished by seniors

By Hyun Moon

The seniors on this year’s football squad were not used to losing—until this year.

Most of them came from successful high school systems and enjoyed 7-4, 9-2 and 6-5 seasons under former coach Jerry Pettibone.

But after Saturday’s 42-21 loss to Toledo, the Huskies suffered their worst season since 1986.

Losing was a new experience for linebacker Scott Van Bellinger, who played on a prep Wisconsin State Champion team. “You have to start playing for yourself and try to have fun,” he said. “Towards the end of the season things get less serious, and you play because it’s something you enjoy doing.”

Last Saturday, most of the 14 seniors saw their careers end. For some, it wasn’t a complete season.

Team captain Nick Jones suffered a career-ending neck injury at Iowa, and starting noseguard Eric White never got going after missing the first four games due to a knee injury.

Others made the most of their season. Fullback Adam Dach rushed for 847 yards this season on 165 carries for a 5.1 yards per carry average. But Dach never reached a goal of having a 1,000-yard season. Dach had his best season in 1990 when he gained 966 yards on a 6.8 yard average.

“It’s especially frustrating that I didn’t reach my goal,” Dach said, “because we had a losing season. I don’t have anything to fall back on.”

Head coach Charlie Sadler said Dach was not able to reach his goal because of defenses designed to stop him. “Adam, many times this year, was frustrated because defenses were structured to stop him,” he said. “But for him to come away with 847 yards under those circumstances is a great accomplishment.”

Linebacker Steve Henriksen did reach his goal by recording 16 tackles against Toledo for a total of 191 to break Larry Clark’s season-high record.

“It was certainly a goal of mine,” Henriksen said, “but I’d trade all those tackles for a 9-2 record.”

Unfortunately, individual accomplishments are soon forgotten, and team results long remembered. The Huskies started the season 1-1 before going on a seven-game losing streak.

“We had a very tough schedule, some key injuries and inexperience,” Dach said. “Our work ethic has been great, but we didn’t have enough guys who knew what it took to win games.”