NECEDAH HIGH SCHOOL: Smallest but Strongest
Coach Erich Mach and the Necedah Cardinals overcame obstacles and turned them into stepping stones which propelled them into the elite status among Wisconsin Schools.
By Coach Erich Mach and Roger Freeborn
Published: Fall 2001
What are stumbling blocks and defeat
to the weak and vacillating
are but stepping stones to victory
to the determined soul.
--Orison Swett Marden
Just as Ron Wolf took another Wisconsin program, the Green Bay Packers, and turned their excuses for not winning into reasons for winning (obstacles to stepping stones), Coach Mach went to work and would not be denied. No one would ever accuse Erich Mach of not being determined. He has poured his heart and soul into the athletic program at Necedah High School, and his dedication has paid great dividends.
The First Year
Coach Mach brought BFS with him to the Cardinal weightroom in 1996, “I had experienced a BFS Clinic with Clinician Jim Brown in Arizona and it really gave me a plan. I knew the basics and had been working with weights for a long time and thought I knew it all; truth is, I knew very little.”
The march to the Conference Championship began with the ‘96 season and the only thing that separated the Cardinal and the Championship Trophy was time, time in the weightroom. That first year the team elevated their performance but in order to win the Championship, it became obvious the players were going to have to get Bigger Faster Stronger.
After the season Coach Mach and the team went to work. They had a vision, a Championship vision, that they were going to make real. In an effort to maintain motivation at high levels during the winter months, Coach Mach organized a powerlifting team. When other athletes of the school saw the benefits of Mach’s Bigger Faster Stronger Program, the number of people in the weightroom continued to increase. Team performance levels in many sports continued to rise through 1997 and 1998. “BFS really gave us the foundation from which to build; I know lifting weights has helped me to develop my speed,” said Ryan Seebruck who placed in the 100, 200 and 400 events at the state track meet and placed third in the Powerlifting Championships. Coach Mach observed that, “Many people have the idea powerlifters are slow. I guess this dispels the myth about powerlifting.”
Taking it to The Next Level
Necedah had not won a championship in football in 60 years. With only 218 students and an economically depressed area people in the school district thought the chances of a championship seemed impossible. Coach Mach would have none of that thinking and had kids working hard. To provide motivation and instruction to take the program to the next level, Erich convinced the administration to bring in Jim Brown for their own BFS Clinic. Coach Brown built upon the foundation already in place, and the Cardinals kept on working.
The Cardinal’s breakout year came in 1999 when they won a share of the Scenic Bluffs Conference Title. The basketball, track and volleyball teams also won Championships. Suddenly Necedah had become the school to beat - no longer were they the beaten school. That year Coach Mach took 13 qualifiers from the Cardinal Powerlifting Team to the State Meet and proved that not only were they a powerful force in their conference but in the whole state as well with the boys finishing second and the girls third. In Wisconsin the Powerlifting Championships are an all school affair with all sizes and classes combined. What an accomplishment to go head-to-head with schools over ten times as big and come away victorious: Smallest But Strongest!
“With the 2000 season approaching, I knew something more was necessary for our team to reach that undisputed championship level,” and once again Coach Mach looked to BFS for the answer: a Be An 11 Clinic. With administrative help, Coach Mach brought in Be An 11 Clinician Roger Freeborn to hone Championship attitudes, motivation, and behaviors. Two-way All Conference player Dan Matson said this about the Be An 11 Clinic, “Coach Mach tries to stress many of the same ideas as Coach Freeborn, and it was cool to see there are others who want to Be An 11.” The Cardinals demonstrated their desire when they made a run at the BFS Dead Lift Record for schools their size.
“Be An 11” provided the focus, concentration and direction that helped propel Necedah into the 2000 season. Coach Mach said, “I wish more student/athletes could experience Coach Freeborn and the BFS Be An 11 Program. The foundations in the Be An 11 Program are more important today than ever. There are so many negative influences out there, and kids lose their self-esteem and focus.” A primary goal of Be An 11 is to help maintain that Championship focus.
The Cardinal football team continued preparation for the 2000 season. With seventeen returning starters, Coach Mach new that if they maintained the proper attitude and focus a special season lay ahead. Erich knew “If we trained properly and took the Be An 11 Clinic to heart, we would win another Scenic Bluffs Conference Championship, AND challenge for the State Championship as well.” Be An 11 was just one of the special efforts that were made by the Necedah coaching staff and administration who did not leave any stone unturned in preparation for their Championship drive.
The 2000 Season
The season began with the usual two-a-day practices but with a twist. Practices took place at the Wisconsin Military Academy. The team practiced, slept and ate on post giving the Cardinals the chance to really gain an insight into themselves and to what it really takes to be a Championship Team. A sense of a “Team With A Dream” solidified at the camp as they anxiously prepared for the upcoming season.
Proper preparation produced tremendous results as the Cardinals exploded for 41 points IN THE FIRST QUARTER of the opening game. Coach Mach and the team had put it all together, and they marched through their first seven games virtually unchallenged as they dominated the line of scrimmage and each opponent. Once again we see another dedicated coach using the BFS Total Strength and Conditioning Program to turn things around for a school that thought its Championship days were over. Not only did they win, but they dominated their opposition week after week. All of a sudden Necedah was not the dead end place people thought it was. Students, faculty, and the whole community came together to support the efforts of the players. Everyone took great pride in the team’s accomplishments.
The Cardinals weren’t really tested until game eight against the Royal Panthers, the largest school by enrollment in the conference. On an unusually hot October day, the Cardinals and the Panthers fought into overtime. This was the perfect time for the BFS Principles to kick in and the team came through with an exciting goal line stand. “I’m convinced our work in the weightroom and our Be An 11 Attitude paid the dividends of victory,” noted Coach Mach. The team finished the record setting season undefeated, 9- 0, and a number 2 ranking in the state. Individual records also tumbled as Ryan Seebruck rushed for 1900 yards while only weighing 138 pounds. BFS added to Ryan’s durability, his heart and determination did the rest. Cousin Chris Seebruck added a 1250 yard season and a record setting, single game six touchdown performance.
The Playoffs started with the same flare as the team seemed invincible. The team marched right to the semis with little challenge. Adversity struck the team, however, in the 14th week of the season when All Conference Player of the Year, Ryan Seebruck, went down with a broken leg. The injury proved to be too much to overcome and the Cardinals lost to the eventual State Champions bringing their dream season to and end.
While this State Championship eluded them, nothing can tarnish the glittering results of the Necedah Football Program: Undefeated Season, multiple conference championships, numerous All-Conference and All-State players as well as a renewed sense of pride and accomplishm