After bouncing back in 2013, the Pointers football team looks poised for a good run in 2014.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point football team finished 5-5 last season after a tough 2-8 season in 2012. This year, UWSP opened the season with a 42-31 comeback win over Albion Sept. 6.
Head coach Tom Journell is encouraged by the team’s performance last season.
“Every year is a different season,” Journell said. “This year started off good beating a good Albion team. Last year we made strides, and with a great recruiting class our program continues to grow.”
Journell believes three things will lead the team to success: consistency, stability, and continuity. Journell believes following the same process keeps the team prepared to succeed on game days.
“As long as you execute the process, things hand themselves one at a time and you find yourself winning the game,” Journell said. He likes to keep things simple and not change much for the players.
“This is what we do. Not going to change our plays or do tricks,” Journell said. “We are going to practice it a thousand times and the investment of time, practice and film study is there’s no surprises on game day.”
Staying with the process helped UWSP overcome an early 10-0 deficit at home. Senior Evan Butts said the team was not fazed by the deficit.
“We didn’t let it bother us being down early,” Butts said. “ We put the early plays in our past, moved onto the next with an even better attitude, we believed in ourselves to win and believed in our system.”
Journell said the team will always have adversities, but with good preparation the team will overcome them.
“The way we focus on adversity is not everything’s going to go our way. As long as the process works, most will go our way which is what we as coaches need to prepare our players,” Journell said. “It’s like studying for a test, and if not prepared you won’t do good.”
Both the offense and defense began to click after being down 17-7 as the offense scored on their next six possessions and the defense had three turnovers. Journell noticed the confidence of the team growing throughout the game with every success offensively and defensively.
“They feed off each other like a shark in the water,” Journell said. “It allows you to play loose with supreme confidence.”
After their first game, the Pointers had a bye week that gave the team an opportunity to go back and work on fundamentals.
“That’s a great advantage to go back to training camp and not worry about an opponent,” Journell said. “A bye week allows us to build on the process of what we do, focusing on ourselves and not an opponent like we do on a game week.”
The opponents are not easy and that is what the Pointers like. In non-conference play, the Pointers play three playoff caliber teams before conference play. Every game is important according to Journell, but the team’s goal is to win the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship.
The difficult non-conference schedule helps prepare the Pointers for the tough conference games.
“Playing playoff teams prepare us,”Journell said. “Our conference is the SEC of Division III and whoever wins our league is going deep in the playoffs.”
UW-Whitewater is the defending national champion who UWSP plays Nov. 8 in Whitewater. Even with the national champions in their conference, UWSP believes they can play against any opponent.
“We feel we can compete with anybody in the nation and feel we’ve demonstrated that,” Journell said.
Butts says there is never a thought of losing among the team.
“We simply expect to win,” Butts said. “We want to be 1-0 on every rep, series, and game. We come out and play every game the same way. I believe no matter what our record is this year and who we play, we will be a confident team.”