Six years ago, Clint Kriewaldt was making the tackle on the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XL.
Now the first-year Freedom Head Coach can find similarities between playing in the biggest game of his career and guiding the Irish to its first ever appearance in the state semifinals.
"Back in Pittsburgh when we won it that year, we were the number six-seed," Kriewaldt said Wednesday. "We went on the road; we won every game, and went on to win the Super Bowl. It's pretty similar. We (Freedom) were coming in as the eight-seed, and no one gives us a lot of credit. No one gave the Steelers credit that year."
Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl that year.
Now eight-seed Freedom is knocking on the door to their first ever trip to Madison just three years after the program finished the season 0-9.
"When I took over back in December/January I brought the kids together right away that day," Kriewaldt said. "The first thing I told them was we were going to be going after a gold ball this year."
"He's an amazing coach," said senior QB/CB Andrew Philibeck. "He completely brings our confidence up. He tells us we can do anything that we want to do."
And it's no shocker that Kriewaldt, a former All-State running back from Shiocton, has leaned heavily on the ground game this year.
Freedom averages nearly 250 yards rushing per game and eight yards per carry this season while scoring 38 touchdowns running the football. Junior Nathan Peters has led the way rushing for more than 600 yards and nine touchdowns in the past two playoff contests. On the season, Peters has tallied 2,058 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns.
Peters is the first to credit the Irish offensive line for his success. But let's face it this team doesn't seem all that worried with stats, they just want that trip to State.
"That would be the world to me," said Peters Wednesday before practice. "That was our goal from the start was to make it to Madison and we want to get a gold ball. Our first one for Freedom, that's our goal."
It's a goal Kriewaldt helped this team believe was possible, and now these players are close to playing in their "Super Bowl."
"We got a great group of kids," Kriewaldt said. "It would be outstanding for them and for this community. It couldn't have happened to a better group of kids."
To get to Madison Freedom needs to defeat 11-0 Big Foot. The Chiefs average 50 points a game and have run for 3,420 yards and 58 TDs this year.
"They can do it both," says Kriewaldt. They can throw the ball; they run the ball extremely well. This isn't a first-time experience for them. They've been there, don that that before."
Kriewaldt hopes that is something that can be said about his program moving forward.
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