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Record-breaking season ends with loss to Duluth
Clayton Kush
Antelope Staff
Photo by Garrett Ritonya
Junior wide receiver Kyle Kaiser of Broomfield, Colo., goes down to make his only reception of the game in the third quarter against Duluth. Kaiser had one catch for eight yards in the loss and will return next season as the Lopers' primary target at wide receiver.

The final chapter of the 2009 UNK football team’s season came to a close on Saturday, Nov. 21, with a 42-7 loss to last year’s Division II champions Minnesota-Duluth.

The loss capped an outstanding season for the Lopers as they finished with a record of 11-2 and a perfect 9-0 in conference play.

This was a season full of great accomplishments for both the team and individual players. The Lopers won the RMAC Conference for the first time since 2005 and their first round playoff win against Saginaw Valley State was the first playoff victory by a Loper football team since 1980.

A big key to the Loper’s success this season was having an experienced team, with returning starters like quarterback Jake Spitzlberger and wide receiver Kyle Kaiser. The team’s explosive big play offensive attack and suffocating defense were a driving force during UNK’s 11-game win streak, but it was how this team played together that made this season so special.

“A big key to our success was teamwork; everybody on the team had their own specific jobs and duties. Knowing that the guy next to you is going to do their part makes it easier for everyone else,” Kaiser said. 

UNK’s quarterback Jake Spitzlberger also felt that the team played well together and is proud of how much they accomplished. “This year was really special. Not a lot of teams and players get to experience this type of season. I’m also extremely proud of our seniors and the way they led us this season,” Spitzlberger said.

On top of great offensive and defensive play, another key ingredient to their success this season was playing in front of a rowdy, loud, blue and white crowd at all of their home games.  Students came out in full force this season to cheer on the Lopers, and they were not disappointed. The Lopers went undefeated at home, with wins over rivals UNO and Chadron State. The RMAC’s unofficial championship game was even played at Foster Field where the Lopers beat Colorado School of Mines.

This support was felt on the field by the players and greatly appreciated. “The more fans we had in the crowd, the easier it was for us to get up for a game, and I really enjoy going out and putting on a show for them,” Kaiser said.

For the UNK football team, the bar has definitely been raised for next year’s team. With many starters such as Spitzlberger, Kaiser and the RMAC Offensive Player of the Year, Rustin Dring in running back,why not?
While returning players say they will definitely miss many of the seniors they are losing this year, they are still confident that they can be better next year.

“I think everyone would agree that we would be disappointed if we didn’t match or succeed what we accomplished this season,” Kaiser said. “ We have a lot of weapons coming back next season. We expect to win another conference title and go deep in the playoffs. This team expects a lot from next season,” Spitzlberger said.

As for now, the excitement will begin to grow for players, coaches and fans for the kickoff of the Lopers 2010 campaign. One that some feel, could lead to the Lopers hoisting the Division II National Championship trophy over their heads at this time next year.


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