This year’s Prairie City-Monroe football team is not going up to the UNI-Dome this weekend to just play in a state semifinal game.
The top-ranked Mustangs are heading north to Cedar Falls with an expectation of a win over West Liberty.
And with a large senior class who is used to winning, they really shouldn’t be thinking anything else.
This year’s senior class has lost only seven games in their four high school seasons. And the number shrinks to two losses over the past two seasons. They were defeated twice last year by a total of three points.
“The only way we’ll be satisfied is if we go up there and win the thing,” said PCM senior linebacker Brycen Rogers, who leads the Mustang defense in tackles.
They don’t expect to lose. And a win over West Liberty would put the program in a place it’s never been before — the state championship game.
PCM advanced to the state semifinals in 2005 and 2006 but lost both times before reaching the championship game.
No Mustang football team has ever won 12 straight games and a 12-0 record would be the best start to a season in school history.
“I think we’ve left a pretty big mark on the community,” senior tailback Wes Cummings said.
“But I feel like if we don’t go up there and win it, there will always be a little piece that was missing. We will always look back and say we were a hell of a team, and we’ll have the trophy in the trophy case, but I think if we don’t win then a piece of our hearts will be left up at the Dome.”
This year’s senior class is used to success. And not just on the gridiron.
Last year’s football team went 8-2 with both losses coming in heartbreaking fashion.
Two players from that team — Cummings and Jarron Trausch — helped the Mustang wrestling team to its best team finish in school history.
Cummings took fourth individually last year, and Trausch has been to state three times and is on pace to become the school’s all-time winningest wrestler.
“I feel like a class like this comes around very rarely,” Trausch said. “We are so closely bonded, and everyone is so athletic.”
The next wave of seniors made their mark on the track and field season. Cummings was joined by two other current seniors — Preston Van Wyk and Payton Strovers — in the 4x200 relay at the state meet. That trio, along with now graduated Noah Anderson, finished third in Class 2A.
Van Wyk then claimed top-five finishes in both the 100- and 200-meter dash. He’ll be back for one more season this spring and should be in the mix for state titles in both events.
“This senior class is very close. It’s a brotherhood really,” Van Wyk said. “We have a special bond, and we are just a bunch of athletic dudes.”
After track came baseball for several of the current senior class, including Van Wyk, Cummings, Reed Worth, Brayton Van Dyke, Olin Meinders and Kaeden VanSoelen. The Mustangs finished 12-14 overall but got things rolling at the end of the season and reached the substate final.
“This class has the want. What people don’t see is the amount of time these seniors have religiously spent in the weight room trying to get better for every sport they do,” PCM track and field head coach and football offensive coordinator Collin Harrison said.
“They are a perfect example for what hard work can do. Not all these players were expected to be stars as freshmen. Now they are, and it’s because of the work ethic they had over the past few years.”
Worth and Andrew Van Ryswyk are two of the best players on the Mustang basketball team, but they also helped the PCM boys’ golf team finish second in 2A last spring.
Whether its on the gridiron, the wrestling mat, a track, a golf course or on a baseball field, the PCM senior class has put together quite the legacy.
“Our class is just different,” Van Ryswyk said. “Everyone is friends with each other. There is no split, like you sometimes see with other classes.”
All of these seniors, as well as well Rogers, Nick Meinders, Isaac Telfer, Nick Buswell, Cole Dustin, Nick Dredge and Chance Palm are all starting on a football team that could make history at the school.
They’ll try to get one step closer to the school’s first football state championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday against West Liberty at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
“I have never been there before. It’s going to be a great experience, and having a chance to win makes it even better,” Buswell said. “I have never not had fun in a football season, but this one passes all the other ones. I have had so much fun this season. We’re way better on the field and tighter as a team, too.”
For all their accomplishments in athletics, PCM head football coach and athletic director Greg Bonnett said the senior class is just as good in the classroom.
“They are gifted athletes for sure, but academically they are just as superior,” Bonnett said.
“These guys are very intelligent individuals. They are committed to being great people and not just great high school athletes.”
Contact Troy Hyde