I will be the first to admit.
I was skeptical when I heard that a semi-professional football team was coming to Ripon.
From my brief one year of working in Rhinelander, I learned about one junior hockey team that saw its league fold within weeks of its existence.
The mess that ensued was nothing short of disastrous.
The league allegedly did not pay the bills, the commissioner went MIA and coaches, players and owners of the ice arenas were threatening lawsuits against him.
Though I was gone by then, two years ago the city received another junior hockey team.
It lasted one year — a season marred by forfeits and lack of organization.
That brings me back to Ripon.
When I heard Wisconsin Ravens co-owner and head coach Dave Adamovich wanted to bring the team to Ripon, I thought, “Here we go again.”
Then, when I talked to him, he mentioned how this was his third attempt in the last three years to start-up and sustain a semi-pro football team.
My fears were confirmed — or so I thought.
The first game came and I was less than impressed with the quality of play and teamwork.
Tensions were running high and players were constantly arguing with each other.
But from that point on, the Wisconsin Ravens showed that they had everything together — both on and off the football field.
They not only won their final seven games to win the Mid-West Football League Championship, but did so by a shocking combined score of 280-18.
While I was not able to attend many games this season, I did catch the team’s semifinal match-up against the U.P. Arctic Blast.
And what I saw was an entertaining, quality game of football — an 180-degree turnaround from the season’s opening contest.
Read the full column in the July 24, 2014 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.