Edgerton/Ellsworth ‘Bringing the wood’ to the finalsEDGERTON — Edgerton/Ellsworth cornerback Devin Hulstein crept on the Metrodome turf toward Ada-Borup wide receiver Xavier Munoz like a cheetah approaching its prey.
EDGERTON — Edgerton/Ellsworth cornerback Devin Hulstein crept on the Metrodome turf toward Ada-Borup wide receiver Xavier Munoz like a cheetah approaching its prey.
Like an optometrist, Hulstein examined the eyes of A-B quarterback Jace Hennen. Hennen knew where he was throwing the ball and, unfortunately for Munoz, so did Hulstein.
Hennen sent a dart to Munoz on the right sideline and before Munoz could get his fingers wrapped around one inch of the ball, Hulstein was putting his entire shoulder into him.
With just under eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, the ball fell to the turf, along with Munoz, and Munoz would not catch a ball the rest of last week’s Class 9-man state semifinal game.
“I was playing a little soft and I saw (Munoz) coming,” Hulstein said. “I saw the quarterback’s eyes and he was looking straight at him the whole time.
“First, I went for the pick, but I saw that I didn’t have it, so I laid him out.”
This is what the E/E football team refers to as “bringing the wood.” The Flying Dutchmen mean it literally, as a baseball bat with “Bring the Wood” on it is given to the player with most big hits at the end of the season.
Last season, E/E football coach Andrew Fleischman decided to take the idea from something he saw about now Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush.
“I stole the idea from Reggie Bush,” Fleischman said. “I saw him run on the field before a game with a bat that said, ‘Bring the Wood!’ and I thought it would be a cool idea.”
The story actually was that New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton gave every player a black bat with “Bring the Wood!” on it before a 2010 playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals. Bush was so pumped up by the bat, he led the team out of the tunnel, holding it. Bush had five carries for 84 yards and a touchdown, along with an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown, the Saints beat the Cardinals 45-14 and went on to win the Super Bowl.
E/E started its own tradition last season. For each game over the last two seasons, the Flying Dutchmen have decided — during film sessions — which player had the biggest hit. Whatever player has the biggest hit, gets his number written on the bat and leads the team onto the field the next game with the bat in hand. Whatever player has his number on the bat the most keeps the bat at the end of the season.
Last season, the award went to one of the smallest guys on the team in running back/linebacker Derek Voge, who had his number represented on the bat three times. Voge has the bat locked up again this year, with four hits of the week. Like running for office, it’s a difficult task to repeat victory with players campaigning all the time.
“Every time someone gets a big hit, they will come back to the huddle and tell everyone that they are a candidate for hit of the week,” Voge said. “If someone de-cleats someone or takes them off their feet, we just judge which one looks like it hurt someone more.”
Voge, known as a “little truck” to his coaches, is happy to lay the big hits for his team. It doesn’t hurt that his ego gets a little boost as well.
“There’s a lot of bragging rights involved in it,” Voge said. “People know me for it.
“It tells people they are going to have to run low or I may break them in half.”
Hulstein felt no remorse about the dirty politics that go with getting your number on the bat.
“You have to (do some campaigning),” Hulstein said. “Guys are always coming to the sideline and asking if everyone saw their hit.”
Thanks to Hulstein’s hit in the semifinals, he will be leading E/E out on the field for the state title at the Metrodome Friday morning with the bat. For him, it’s more than just a bat.
“(Bring the wood) means to bring the intensity,” Hulstein said. “You have to lay the big hits and hit harder than them.”
For Fleischman, the bat represents his team.
“It’s kind of symbolic for how we want to go at each game,” Fleischman said. “The number one thing that we pride ourselves on is being a physical team.
“That isn’t just a bat. We want it to symbolize how we play.”