MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Minnesota State University, Mankato Football team has been announced as the No. 1 seed in Super Region 4 for the DII football championships.
The squad was thrilled to learn the news.
“It’s extremely exciting, it’s something we worked for all season, there’s a pretty cool video that Hoffner just posted of everyone kind of freaking out once they found out so that was pretty cool but we didn’t come here to get the one seed so we’re excited and hungry for what’s ahead,” Shane Zylstra, MSU senior wide receiver, said.
“We were hoping that we’d be a one seed, obviously we thought we were going to be a one or a two so it was a little bit up in the air, both teams had really good strength of schedule between Tarleton State and Minnesota State and fortunately the committee thought enough of us and thought we were a good enough team to get the number one seed,” Todd Hoffner, MSU head coach, said.
The top seeding means the Mavs will receive a first–round bye before entering the tournament.
“I think it’s going to be good, we’re really beat up right now and we played a really tough south division schedule over the last three weeks and some physical football teams like Sioux Falls and even Upper Iowa is physical and so is Wayne State so it’s going to be a welcomed time for us, we’ve got to try to stay sharp with our saw if you will but we also have to rest and recover so it’s a delicate balance, we’ve been here before so hopefully we can learn some things from the past and carry that wisdom into the future,” Hoffner said.
The Mavericks are no stranger to the NCAA Tournament qualifying 12 times in program history, seven of those appearances were in the past eight years. Coach Hoffner notes that each season and tournament is unique.
“It’s a very special group of guys we’re all very excited to be together and be at this point, a lot of hard work has gone into this season and we just have tremendous talent in this senior group so we’re all excited to see what is coming in the next few weeks,” Zylstra said.
“As a senior everything’s always a little bit different, you’ve got a little bit different feel so it’s pretty exciting to go back, it’s kind of come in first circle, two years ago as a sophomore we thought we were going to be the one seed, didn’t get it, then last year we didn’t know, we got it, this year you couldn’t feel ready for anything, you didn’t know and to have that moment with the team in the weight room, having a great lift and then to have that excitement it’s definitely a moment I’ll remember,” Ryan Schlichte, MSU senior quarterback, said.
The team has big expectations and big hopes as they enter the NCAA Tournament.
“I think we’re capable of a lot of things, we have a lot of senior leadership on both sides of the ball which will take us pretty far. Knowing that we have playoff experience is huge in big games, in the games that we’ve won and the games that we’ve lost so you’ve got to take the good and the bad into these new experiences, try to get the young guys up to speed on what it’s going to be like, because every play matters,” Schlichte said.
“I think we can take it all the way, we just can’t disrespect any opponent, we’ve got to take it week by week because it’s survive and advance at this point,” Zylstra said.
The Mavericks will play either Colorado State University, Pueblo or Augustana in the second round of the tournament on Saturday Nov. 30th at Blakeslee Stadium, that contest is set for 1 p.m.