The Minnesota State University football team is celebrating the school's first-ever undefeated regular season. The Mavericks will head to the NCAA Division II playoffs as a top seed.
"This is an awesome experience to share with these guys," said Aaron Keen, acting head coach.
"I know about the storied tradition here, all the wins they have," said linebacker Marcus Hall-Oliver. "First team to go 11-0. Definitely great. Never been done."
"It's awesome," said wide receiver Adam Thielen. "All the time and work this team put in finally paid off. Pretty special feeling."
One of the things that makes the perfect season so special for the squad is what they had to overcome -- the off-field distractions they had to block out.
Back in August, head coach Todd Hoffner was yanked off a practice field, accused of the unthinkable -- child porn involving his own kids. Prosecutors allege home videos found on Hoffner's university-issued cell phone, with his children naked, amounted to pornography. A legal battle in Blue Earth County court ensued.
"We didn't even think about that," Thielen said. "We just focused on doing our own job."
On the field, all Hoffner's team did was win.
"In this game, you have to focus on the task at hand, have attention to detail -- our kids have done that." Keen said. "Their work each week to prepare and to meet the challenges and overcome adversity has been outstanding."
The players insist the winning formula was simple: A family. A team. A commitment to go out and try to win the school's first national championship.
Coach Hoffner and his attorneys have asked for the child porn charges to be dismissed, describing the videos as innocent family recordings. Legal briefs on the motion are due this Wednesday, with a judge's decision expected shortly thereafter.
The Mavericks return to action on Saturday, November 24, four wins away from that national title.