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Beavers Sports

'83 Team Feels Connected with Today's Beavers

Varsity - 2008 Season
Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008 by Ken Leiviska
   

'83 team feels connected with today's Beavers

By Ken Leiviska
Times-Press

REEDSBURG — The members of the 2008 Reedsburg Beaver football team have a chance to realize their preseason goal this Friday against Waupaca. It will be the first appearance by Reedsburg on the carpet in Madison to play in the Division 3 state championship.

This year's team made a little history just by reaching the state semi-finals, becoming the first Reedsburg football team to do that in 25 years. By winning that game, they have catapulted themselves into the Reedsburg record books. They have also made a lot of people who watched the '83 team feel a little nostalgic.

"The '83 team and this team are very similar," Steve Bauer, who is the color man for radio broadcasts of the football games, said. He was one of the coaches on the team from '83 as well.

When Bauer was the coach for the freshman team in 1980, he had a quarterback deserving of varsity status. When somebody talks about John Mayer today, it is usually a teenage girl talking about the singer's latest hit on the music charts. Mention John Mayer to Bauer and a remembering smile recalls that talented freshman quarterback he had back in '80, the same who would lead Reedsburg to the state semi-finals in '83.

"John Mayer was one of the greatest players I've ever coached," Jerry Griffin, head coach of the '83 football team, said. Griffin believes current Beaver quarterback Tyler Mazur is doing a great job as a senior leader this year.

"Mazur is a lot like Mayer, but it is hard to compare the two," he said.

Bauer agreed, saying he had never seen an athlete since Mayer with so  many raw skills until Mazur came along. But he did not believe the two were comparable either, as each brought his own unique element to the game.

Mayer was not the only one Griffin and Bauer remember from the '83 team. Another name they wanted to keep talking about was Mike Lennon or as he was known by many, "Mr. Speed."

A senior on the '83 team, Lennon led the Beavers in rushing with 1,144 yards on only 129 carries for eight touchdowns as an all-conference selection in a high-powered offense. Now, his son Matt Lennon, who his teammates call "The Fastest Kid Alive," is leading the '08 team with 18 touchdowns on 83 carries and 835 yards as a sophomore.

"Everyone says we were really similar and he was really fast and just a hard worker," Matt said.

His father sees the similarities in his son's play.

"You get to see a little bit of yourself," Mike said, "but he's bigger and stronger than I was — faster, too."

Although Mike yields to his son when it comes to physical talent, part of what drives Matt is what his father did 25 years ago.

"He pushes me a lot," Matt said. "I want to be a person who always rushes for 1,000 yards in a season, just like him."

Mike said his son loves "being in the mix" offensively, much to his delight last Saturday when he led the team with 164 yards on the ground, but he also understands the overarching team concept the Beavers have taken on this season.

"They have so many weapons," Griffin said. "You need that to get to this level."

Every week it seems like someone new steps up in the dynamic offense, whether it is fullback Justin Huinker, Mazur or Lennon. Similarly, the '83 team had a core group that always seemed to rise to the occasion in Mayer, Lennon and wide receiver Bryan Wright.

An offensive juggernaut, the only thing this year's team seemed to be lagging behind on in a comparison to the '83 team was a stingy defense. In recent weeks that has all changed.

"Defensively, they're finding their way," Griffin said. "They're healthy and they're peaking."

Bauer could not agree more and said, "Defensively we've really gotten better. We're hitting harder and have more confidence. The kids are playing their role."

Just like Matt has taken on the team concept, where everyone is a hero when the team wins, so has the defense. Bauer has taken note of the entire team bond this year.

"It's been especially enjoyable this season because the kids get along so well," he said. "It's the true meaning of team — it's the chemistry."

The team now has a chance to end their season differently than the team in '83 did, with a win. In their state semi-final game against Kewaskum, a very controversial play ended the game and dashed the hopes of an entire Reedsburg community of a state championship.

Mayer, who also played defense, tipped an overtime field goal attempt by Kewaskum. The ball landed in the hands of a Kewaskum player who made his way into the endzone for an apparent touchdown. To this day Griffin believes it should not have counted.

"We had good color film that day (recording the game) — it was close," Griffin said, "but the ball did advance beyond the line of scrimmage by a yard or two."

The rule states that if a field goal attempt crosses the line of scrimmage, even if partially blocked, the ball is dead. This would have negated any advancement made by Kewaskum after the block and effectively cancelled the touchdown, giving Reedsburg another chance to go to state.

That crushing loss still sits in Mike Lennon's memory, too.

"For myself and all the starters it was like we'd just been removed from a power source," Mike said. "The energy was just gone. That was the longest walk back to the bus I ever made."

Mike wishes things would have ended differently that season, but sees this season as a second chance because his son now has the opportunity he never had.

"He (Mike) tells me all the time he wishes he was back in high school and wishes how he could have gone further," Matt Lennon said.

For Matt, the game on Friday is the chance of a lifetime. For Mike, it's a chance he never had as a player, but one he'll gladly take as the father of the starting halfback.

"It's history in the making right there for Reedsburg and these kids," Mike said.

Hopefully they can add one more to it."

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