The 2018 Sevastopol Pioneers football team is making history twice this week–and we might say three times in the past two weeks.
First, they defeated Wausau Neuman Catholic to earn a place at the WIAA 8-Player State Championship game. Wausau Neuman Catholic had never been defeated.
Second, this year is the first, inaugural year, of the WIAA 8-Player Football Championship series. So, they’ve achieved a first there too.
Third, and maybe the most exciting for the entire Sevastopol School community is that this is the first appearance at football state for any Pioneers football team!
Football Has a Rich Heritage at Sevastopol
Sevastopol School opened its doors to students 1-12 in September of 1924. And the first Pioneer football game was played in 1924. For the next 13 years, until 1937 various games were played. The Peninsula Conference established in 1937 but after being unable to convince the school board of the need for football (and equipment), Mr. Bieri, Principal Launcher, and Coach Filardo took it upon themselves to purchase equipment to field the team. Family history tells me that Grandpa Russ, )great-great grandfather to my grandson on the 2018 team) to be assured that his sons, Pete and Bruce, would have a team, contributed $100 (without telling Grandma Ada). We’re not sure how that turned out, but after the first season the school board was convinced football was here to stay.
Coach Filardo’s early years were very successful with an 11-2-2 record in the first three seasons. In 1939 the team earned a conference championship. Coach Filardo’s yearbook motto was, “Win “Em All.”
Six Man Football and Time Out of School to Practice
The 1943 yearbook stated, “When our football season started, many of our boys were afraid we wouldn’t have much football due to war restrictions. It was thought, if nothing else, there would be six-man football among the classes.” This was in the midst of WWII. A shortage of players wasn’t the only problem teams had, gas rationing was in effect so there was concern about getting to the games. Enter the farmers–if you were a farmer gas rationing didn’t apply so the farm boys drove.
A majority of the players on the team were farm boys and had chores to do after school, so the football players were allowed the last two period of the day for practice. I am sure today’s coaches and players would love that, not sure how that would play into the minimum number of hours required in a school year though!
Through the Years
There were good years, there were lean years, there were the years of co-op football with Gibraltar, and now 8-player football. Thoughout all the years there remained a strong send of pride for players and coaches, and in each team there was fight–with the aspiration to Win ‘Em All as coach Filardo’s motto stated.
The last few years have felt like a return to the “glory days”. Imagine how Coach Filardo, Principal Launcher and Russ Bieri would feel looking at where Sevastopol football has been and come.
Good luck tomorrow, Sevastopol Pioneers Football. Your success has lifted an entire school and community!