The word “journey” held high precedents when it came to Gustie football this fall. When asked to describe the season in just one word, without hesitation, both Head Coach Peter Haugen and Senior Captain Zach Vine, responded with the same answer: Journey.
After beginning the season 6-0, the team fell into the heat of their campaign, losing in the latter four games of their season. The four games were all highly competitiv games which could have ended with either team the victor. But the end of the season means the end of competitive football for many, including Vine.
The squad’s 6-0 start included wins over Crown, Lake Forest, Hamline, Augsburg, St. Olaf, and a 50-0 Homecoming victory over Carleton College, which Vine. Offensive lineman, described the Homecoming victory as one of his favorite moments of his senior season.
“I was really happy with how our guys were able to keep coming back and keep grinding every day. As an offensive line, I was really pleased with how we were able to unite,” Vine said. “I pride myself on treating every play as if it was my last. Your senior season is very special. We had a great group of seniors and the younger guys have come in and respected the culture that we have tried to create.”
The seniors have most likely played their last snap of football. “I’m going to miss it for sure. We had a really special group this season. I’ll miss the relationships and showing up to work with these guys every day,” Vine said.
Although football is over for many, there is still much to look forward to for others.
Junior quarterback, Mitch Hendricks led the MIAC conference in both passing touchdowns and passing yards this season. He was one of the brightest spots on the team throughout the year. One of his best games came against Augsburg, in a 55-31 rout of the Auggies. In the win, Hendricks tossed a total of seven touchdown passes, a new school record.
Being a junior, Hendricks is looking forward to next season.
“Our goals for next year have to be the same as they were this year. As a whole, we laid some good building blocks for next year. We want to go undefeated in the conference and go 1-0 every week, then winning the conference will take care of itself,” Hendricks said.
Along with Hendricks, all three starting receivers will be returning next season. Juniors Matt and Gabe Boyce, as well as sophomore George Buchner all have a full year playing with Hendricks under their belts, making for an even more experienced and explosive offense next season.
“I look forward to continue making progress. I hope to have an even better offseason for the team and to come into camp prepared and ready to go next year,” Haugen said.
Although the six wins to begin the season were very rewarding, Haugen hoped to pull through in some of the late season defeats. “There were a few tough games towards the end of the season which I wish we could have pulled out, but any time you have a winning season, it is a positive thing,” Haugen said.
As for the season as a whole, Haugen will walk away from it with many memories.
“There are so many memories from this season. Highlighting just one wouldn’t do justice to the numerous positives of the year,” Haugen said.
The Gusties finished fifth in te MIAC conference.