LITTLE CHUTE - Two years ago Little Chute reached the Division 3 state semifinals but fell to Racine St. Catherine's and then last season the Mustangs failed to return to state after been shockingly granted a second chance in the postseason.
This year, it's the final run for a quality senior class that includes Turner Botz, Kenneth Lowe, Mitch Ciske, Jed Albers and Tyler Job.
After this season there is no next year and no second chances.
The Mustangs (21-1) have, for the most part, cruised through the regular season, but come Friday the season they have been waiting for starts. Little Chute hosts Tomahawk in a regional semifinal and most expect this to be the start of a long postseason run.
"This our last shot at doing something," Botz said. "We need to make sure our legacy's great here."
Botz is doing his part. The Green Bay recruit is the only player in program history to score more than 1,000 points, but a second trip to the state tournament is all that this program has aimed for since losing to eventual state champion Brillion last season in a sectional final.
It would seem with high expectations, the Mustangs are under pressure, but they don't see it that way.
"We don't think of it much," Botz said. "I know it sounds truly cliché and everything, but we really do take it one game at a time and respect every opponent and I think we have been doing a good job of it so far."'
Coach Mickey Martin remembers last year's loss to Brillion and what it meant. But before the sectional final Little Chute had already lost a postseason game – to rival Xavier.
However, the Hawks used an ineligible player in the regional final win and had to forfeit the win. Little Chute got a second chance and beat Fox Valley Lutheran in a sectional semifinal.
The Mustangs, however, were unable to lock down a second straight trip to state.
"It's been a long year waiting to get back and give her another go, I can tell you that much," Martin said. "We were sitting in Menasha last year after getting a second chance, which nobody else has really ever got, and sitting there, we only have one more chance next year and that's mainly with our seniors."
The group of seniors include Botz and Lowe, who will play next season at Green Bay. The pair of forwards are a big reason Little Chute is one of the favorites to win the Division 3 state title.
"To have two guys with that quality and their size, obviously, it really makes a tough matchup for everybody across the board," Martin said. "The fact they're both on the same team and you go 6-8, 6-6 with the talent those two have; that's the matchup problem. A lot of teams have one player of that caliber but certainly not two."
Botz and Lowe hope to make amends for last year's sectional final loss to Brillion. However, they haven't obsessed over it.
"I haven't thought much about it, but, yeah, it is in the back of your head," Lowe said. "Getting back there would be really fun and really exciting and that's what the ultimate goal is."
With the regular season done, Botz said a state title is all that's on his mind.
"That would mean everything for me, and I think I can say for my teammates, as well," he said. "It's something I've always wanted as long as I can remember, and I'm willing to do anything to get it."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
For 11 seasons, Blaise Winter played defensive end in the NFL. Three of those years were with the green and gold. Now, the man who overcame numerous health issues is being honored for his work.
A 68-year-old man is dead after a multi-vehicle crash in Neenah.
A Fond du Lac standoff involving shots fired at some area police officers is over.
A Grand Chute firefighter has died in a car crash.
Oral arguments will be held in March in a college baseball coach's lawsuit against his former employer.
Elementary school students in Wisconsin would have at least half an hour of daily physical education under a bill backed by Republican Rep. Chad Weininger, of Green Bay.