KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — As the Western Michigan Broncos held their final football practice Monday before the holiday break, they focused not so much on the bowl game ahead, but rather the next season ahead.
“It’s (about) the building of the program,” head coach Tim Lester, said. “We’ve had four or five practices now that every single player on our team has participated in as far as team reps. The ones, the two, the threes, the ones that have had the least amount of reps.”
Senior quarterback Jon Wassink agrees.
“These extra practices are definitely beneficial, especially for (young) guys that during the season that were maybe on scout team and kind of have to get use to the offense again. So, they are very beneficial,” Wassink said.
Lester believes the additional reps will pay big dividends for the young Broncos next season.
“It makes a huge, huge, difference in spring ball,” Lester said. “Our spring ball is going to be better because of what we are doing right now. So, it’s invaluable and we’ve taken advantage of it. The guys have done a good job.”
For the seniors, it’s a chance to go out on a winning note.
“I think they are the second winningest class in the history of our school,” Lester said, “Which over a block of time is really impressive when you think about all the teams we’ve had and all the classes we’ve had come through here.”
There have been 114 teams to be precise.
“We want to set the standard for Western Michigan,” senior defensive end Antonio Balabani, said. “That we go to bowl games every year. That we win bowl games and set a standard for the new guys coming in. That this is not a surprise that we went to a bowl game. It’s not a surprise that we won. We expect to go. We expect to win. That’s what we want the legacy to be going forward.”
The hope is to help set that legacy by becoming just the second team and second senior class in program history to win a bowl game.
“We’re excited to get out there and have some fun,” Wassink said. “To have fun and give it our all.”
The Broncos return to practice Sunday before flying to Dallas for the First Responders Bowl the day after Christmas.
The game against Western Kentucky, will be played on Dec. 30 at 12:30 pm.