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Experience guides Lopers to banner 2009 record
Clayton Kush
Antelope Staff
Photo by Garrett Ritonya
Senior defensive end Mason Brodine stuffs a helpless Western State runner. Brodine is part of a defensive unit that is among the leaders in all of Division II in scoring average (13 points per game) and that has helped guide the Lopers to a 6-1 record. Coming into this week, the Lopers were ranked No. 16 in American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll. This season marks the first time the Lopers have been ranked in the AFCA poll since the 2005 squad made a playoff run.

It’s been a great season for the Loper football team, ending a six-game losing streak to the UNO Mavs and a three-year run of losses to the Chadron State Eagles before shooting up to a national ranking of 13th in the latest Division II poll.

A great deal of this success can be credited to the Loper’s great wealth of experienced players. The UNK football team improved to a record of 6-1 with a 52-3 win over New Mexico Highlands. 

Returning offensive starter quarterback Jake Spitzlberger and wide receiver Kyle Kaiser have been the key to the Loper’s success on offense. The defense has been a solid unit thanks to a number of players, especially their anchor on the defensive line, Mason Brodine.

The 6’7’’ 255-pound senior from Elm Creek is stepping up big in his final season for a Loper defense that is giving up less than 13 points a game. Brodine feels the team, especially the defense, is playing much better this season for a few reasons.

“This year has been more of a team effort. We are getting more production and guys are really stepping up big. One of the reasons our defense has been playing better this season is that the offense has been moving the ball up and down the field, and that has been keeping our defense off the field more,” Brodine said.

There has also been a noticeable change in the team’s attitude. “There has been much more encouragement this year from the sidelines. When the offense or defense is out on the field, the other unit is crowding the sidelines cheering them on. That’s something we’ve gotten more of this year,” Brodine said.  

Brodine has made great improvements himself this season as he leads a defensive line that hasn’t given up over 100 yards rushing since their first game. He feels that his success on the gridiron can be attributed to a number of things. I’m much more experienced, I worked hard in the weight room to get much stronger and had a better off-season of working out and training,” Brodine said.

Looking back on his career here at UNK, Brodine feels his experience has been great, and he’s learned a lot that he will take with him to the next stage of life.

“Playing football here has helped me become more responsible and helped me deal with things in life. With every game, I’ve seen myself continually get better and better, and that is something I would like to carry on after football,” Brodine said.

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