The West Central Wildcats’ semipro football team from Terre Haute has been written about before in this column space over the last two years.
Now the Wildcats have earned new publicity by reaching the championship game of the Interstate Football League (IFL) playoffs.
They’ll be battling the Bloomington-based Indiana Cutters — for the third time this season — at 7 p.m. today at Cloverdale High School’s field. The winner will receive the Bushman Trophy symbolizing the IFL championship.
Admission is $5. Children under 12 will get in free.
“Everybody on the team is excited,” proclaimed Mike Rindone, the Wildcats’ fourth-year head coach. “The level of intensity is turned up when you get this far. We are all business. I think everybody’s going to know when that final whistle blows that the Wildcats are for real.”
The Wildcats, who played most of their home games this season at Rose-Hulman’s Cook Stadium, last reached the IFL title game in 2009 when they lost to the Evansville Bearcats.
But Rindone believes the 2011 version of the Wildcats (10-0 IFL, 10-1 overall) is better than the 2009 squad.
“We’ve been working our butts off since March,” he emphasized.
Some players with Wabash Valley, Indiana State University or Rose-Hulman connections include quarterback Cogan Keith, cornerback K.C. Wilson, wide receiver Mike Landry, tight end Derek Thompson, running back Steve Belleu, safety Greg Ellis, guard Evan Moore, tackle Kyle Dean and center Chris Ferry.
“Cogan’s provided a huge spark to our offense,” Rindone said of his signal-caller. “He’s got a cannon for an arm and he can run.”
Their senior citizen is 39-year-old fullback Butch Auler, a 1990 Terre Haute North High School graduate.
The Wildcats already defeated the Cutters 49-0 and 51-13 during the regular season, but Rindone promises his squad will not take them lightly tonight.
Last Saturday, the Wildcats knocked off the Kosciuscko County Mustangs 21-10 to advance to the IFL title contest. “I thought the guys showed a lot of resolve … and we got it done,” Rindone assessed afterward.
Rindone acknowledged there is a slim chance that the Wildcats could receive an invitation to a national semi-pro tournament if they emerge victorious tonight.
“As far as I’m concerned,” he added, “this is our last game of the season.”
I joined the Wildcats’ Facebook page a few months ago, so I’ve read the players’ and coaches’ comments throughout the season. They like to have fun, but they’re serious about their football.
If you don’t have plans, go check ’em out.
David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.