SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KCAU) – When Dordt’s fall season ended in November, there was a lot of uncertainty. The Defenders felt like they did enough to earn a spot in the postseason, but they weren’t sure if the NAIA would pick them for the playoffs. So they got to work.
“Feel like all of us were in the same boat where we felt pretty secure in the work we had done in the past four, five months,” Said Dordt senior receiver Levi Jungling. “Whether the playoff decision went where we wanted to or not, we were all committed to this team, and that work would’ve been what we wanted to do either way.”
“I told our guys five months from now there’s a small chance we’re in the playoffs and so you can imagine all the uncertainty, not really knowing what was gonna happen,” said Defenders head coach Joel Penner. “But the guys stuck with it and just kept working.”
When this year’s seniors committed to Dordt out of high school, they did so knowing the Defenders had never had a winning season. Fast forward to last Sunday, and not only have they finished with winning seasons in each of the past three years, but their hard work had finally come together for the first trip to the playoffs in program history.
“It was quite a feeling,” said Dordt senior linebacker Josh Mrazek. “Almost like butterflies in your stomach when you’re going down a rollercoaster. Everybody in the gym or whatever, man, we were pumped. It was an amazing feeling, and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
“It felt like that was the culmination of four years of hard work put in,” said Jungling. “When the seniors said yes to this program, it hadn’t had a winning season in all of its history. Just all the work that went into building it up to this point and finally get recognized as a national playoff team means a lot to us.”
The team now turns their attention to their next opponent, #2 Grand View. Luckily for Dordt, they’ve been preparing like it’s a game week since November.
“We’re strapping up like it’s another game in the fall. Business as usual,” said Mrazek. “Getting down to the nitty-gritty, and the small details, and just getting ready for a big game.”
“The team is full of guys who are bought in to a purpose bigger than the individual,” said Jungling. “We understand what it means to be a part of this program, and that means doing everything we do at an excellent level. So I think we just keep preparing like we have, and get ready for the first playoff game in program history.”
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, this year’s team has proven to be one of the most dedicated in Dordt’s history. All they’ve asked for is a chance, and this weekend, their hard work will be rewarded with just that.