DETROIT - It took Wayne State 94 years to reach the postseason. After getting a sniff of the title as FCS runners-up last season, the Warriors are looking ahead to what's next.
"We were never in the playoffs before. Now knowing what it's like, getting a taste of it, everything is working to get back there," quarterback Mickey Mohner said.
Wayne State didn't win the GLIAC last season, but earned its way into the FCS postseason playoffs. Nicknamed the "Road Warriors" for their flawless winning streak along the way to the championship game.
Head Coach Paul Winters drew interest from FBS schools, including Akron, during the offseason. Winters elected to sign an extension with Wayne State. The growth of the program and call for consistency are goals he has long welcomed with the program.
"I want them to know there's a level of expectation. I think with the success we had last year, they understand what that level of expectation means a little better," Winters said.
Experience helps a team that lost a host of talented players, including three that started the summer on NFL training camp rosters. Getting that aforementioned taste of what could have been has lofty goals in reach.
"It's unbelievable. We always knew we weren't the greatest team, but now that we've actually been there, now we can visualize winning the national championship," wide receiver Steve Conway explained.
Conway is one of the Warriors the coaching staff has been delighted with during workouts. Wayne State practiced for the third time Saturday, but already, competition for starting positions has been heated.
"The great thing is that we've got so many great players. It's gonna be tough to get in that starting eleven, so everyone's out there competing," redshirt junior linebacker Ed Viverette pointed out.
Everyone wants to be on the grand stage that Wayne State provides. Night games, a national broadcast, and division contention highlight the slate of action this season. That spotlight was earned, and it has taken the program to its most celebrated point.
"Actually, I took a vacation to Mississippi, and a guy actually recognized my Wayne State shirt. So this year, we definitely got a bigger bullseye on us," Viverette said with a smile.
94 years was a long time to wait. The Warriors don't want to wait that long again. In fact, a year seems too long.
So it's back to football. And it's back to work.
Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter at WXYZ. Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradGalli .
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