COLBY HIGH SCHOOL: Wisconsin State Champs

“We don’t emphasize the idea that football has to be a way of life but that it should be something that adds to their high school experience. I think a healthy balance between the physical, mental, a

By Matt Shepard
Published: Spring 1999
For the Colby High Football Team, winning was viewed as a nice addition to what they really valued—personal growth. The Colby Hornets not only came out of the season as well tuned athletic machines carrying the Wisconsin State, Division IV, Championship Trophy, but also possessing personal ideals like compassion, dedication, and humility accompanied with a constant desire to always improve. The Hornets overall attitude is probably best described through this quick story related to me by the head football coach, Jeff Rosemeyer:
The team revered little Melissa, as a perfect example of hard work and dedication after which to model their own ideals. Her story is on the next page in green. Always prevalent for the Colby High football team was an overwhelming desire to continually improve and to overcome any trial that might lay ahead and Melissa’s presence stood as a constant reminder. In addition to being the teams icon of hard work and endurance, Melissa also became the means to which the team grasped the full meaning of compassion and humility. By helping Melissa and tracking her progress, they were able to experience how far a little love will go.
With that quick background, it is easy to see how the Hornets were able to unfalteringly keep their intensity up all year long. Just like Melissa, they took it one step at a time focusing on making today as meaningful as possible rather than becoming caught up in the future. Coach Rosemeyer states, “We don’t stress goals in terms of wins or yards gained. We try to stress goals of attending every practice or workout and achieving the best academic grades that they can.” The players followed their coaches admonitions by making every minute count, on and off the field. As a result, each player learned that persistent hard work does pay off.
For Coach Rosemeyer, another big topic is teamwork. He believes, “It is one of the most important aspects of our program.” To further enhance team unity, he has all the seniors watch for outstanding efforts from the underclassmen during practices. At the end of practice, the seniors get to note great efforts they noticed being made by underclassmen. Coach Rosemeyer states, “We do that every day for the first week of practice and periodically during the season. I think it helps all the players to realize that what they do in practice everyday is important for the benefit of the whole team.”
Off the field, the Hornets continued to strive for excellence and push themselves to the limit. Coach Rosemeyer is a firm believer that in-season weight training is essential to a teams’ success. He explains, “I feel that the BFS in-season program helped players gain strength during the season. It was also a big factor in reducing injuries and fatigue.” He then recalls, “We explained the BFS in-season program and what would be expected of them. Once they learned the routine and proper techniques, they really took off. It was not long and they were pushing themselves and each other to get the most out of each workout. They saw gains in their strength and speed and the benefits were showing up on the playing field.”
The players really started to push themselves in the weight room. They knew it was helping them and they knew that it was giving them an advantage over their opponents. Brandon Braithwaite, middle linebacker, remembers, “The BFS Program not only kept us relatively injury free, but also increased our quickness. I could see a definite improvement in all of the players, especially the underclassmen.” By the time the playoffs started, they were all the strongest they had ever been and ready to take on anybody. The teams starting fullback, Maynard Stange, emulated the optimism of his teammate, Brandon, about in-season training by stating, “The exercises definitely helped as we went through the season. The whole team benefited from the lifts.”
Looking back on the season, Coach Rosemeyer remembers what he felt was the defining moment of their season, “Our non-conference schedule (2 games) featured teams that were traditionally very strong. The second of these two games was against a school almost twice our size. Our two towns are fairly close together so there were a lot of people talking about the match-up. We played a very solid game and came away with a convincing win.” The Hornets used that moment as a springboard going into the conference season in which, just like that non-conference game, they dominated all the way to the end of the season. Game after game they got stronger; game after game they got more confidence; game after game they came home victorious.
Finally, the task at hand became the play-offs. They worked very hard day in and day out for the entire season and felt ready to conquer it all. Just as Melissa was overcoming everything her illness threw at her, the Hornets felt they could overcome anything their opponents could throw at them. They ended the season triumphantly as Coach Rosemeyer happily recalled, “Our first play-off game was against the defending state champion in our division and again we played very well. We maintained our focus and used our balanced attack through the play-offs and won the state championship game 21-14 by scoring the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.”
The Hornet’s season may be over but the fight to improve still continues for the Colby High Football Team as well as for their number one fan, Melissa. Even though the football season has ended, Melissa’s friendship with the players continues as they work toward a very welcome future.


One of our biggest fans this year was an eighth grade girl named Melissa. She is confined to a wheel chair as she is recuperating from a major illness. At a pep assembly during homecoming week, the seniors presented Melissa with a Colby Hornet Football sweatshirt and football, both of which were signed by all the members of the team. A very special bond formed between the team and Melissa. I think we drew a great deal of inspiration from her and she from us as we progressed through the season. She made great strides in her recovery and our players realized how fortunate they were to have someone like her so interested in what they were doing. Melissa would work hard to make trips around the halls with crutches instead of the wheelchair and the team would keep track of her progress and provide encouragement. After many of the games the players would stop by on their way off the field to talk to Melissa. She had a very positive effect on the team all the way through the state championship game.

The Colby offense explodes off the line during a play-off game.

Eric Filipiak, Offensive End, led the team with 924 yds, 54 catches and 14 TD’s

(L to R) Kent Telford, Eric Filipiak and Justin Willner get ready for another play.

Coach Rosemeyer spots All-state Defensive Tackle Robbie Smazal on the Box Squat. Robbie had 89 tackles and 4 sacks last season.

Eric Filipiak, All-State End, working on his Towel Bench doing reps of 225 pounds.

Fullback Maynard Stange Squats while Robbie Smazal spots. Maynard had 830 all-purpose yards and 19 TD’s with 129 tackles, 9 interceptions and two defensive TD’s.