"Yes, we will run the ball. We will run with it after we catch it."
With that quote from his 1999 introductory press conference, UW-Platteville Coach Mike Emendorfer ushered in a new, exciting era of Pioneer football.
For the last 16 seasons as the UW-Platteville head coach, the Pioneers have assaulted the record book, setting 40 school marks and 10 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference records. In the process while featuring an offense that has had three games with more than 70 pass attempts and an attack that set the individual single-game rushing record when Mike Genslinger ran for 285 yards against UW-River Falls in 2006.
More offensive records fell in 2014, as senior running back Andy Puccini broke the school rushing yards record in a season with 2,252 yards from scrimmage. The 2014 senior class, was a special one as they achieved the most success under Emendorfer’s tutelage. Over a four year span the 2014 senior class went 32-10, that included National Rankings at high as #8 and a playoff appearance.
Emendorfer earned his second WIAC Coach of the Year Award as the 2013 season was a historic one for the Pioneers. UW-Platteville finished 10-2 and made its first ever NCAA Division III Playoff appearance. The Pioneers hosted Concordia (Wis.) in the first round and went on to defeat the Falcons, 54-20. The 2013 campaign ended in the second round of the tournament at the hands of North Central, 52-24. The Pioneers garnered a program record 19 all-WIAC selections, and also collected six all-region and two all-American honorees.
Emendorfer earned the WIAC Coach of the Year Award for 2004, a season in which the Pioneers achieved their first winning record since 1992. The Pioneers finished 6-4, beating top-20 teams Augustana, UW-Whitewater and UW-Eau Claire. Emendorfer also took his team out to Pennsylvania, where the Pioneers beat Thiel 40-14. Along the way, the team toured Notre Dame and its stadium as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 2012, Emendorfer guided the Pioneers to a record of 8-2 that has not been matched since 1976. The 2012 Pioneers tallied a school record 15 all-WIAC honorees which included five first-team, eight second-team and two honorable mention awards. Ryan McWethy became the third Pioneer in school history to earn AFCA All-American honors. The Pioneers had an explosive offense that averaged 41 points, good for eighth in the country, and 471.9 yards per game. The Pioneers set school records in total offense (4,719 yards), points scored (410), first downs (244), passing percentage (71%) and touchdown passes (33).
In 2011, Emendorfer led the Pioneers to its first seven-win season, including five in the WIAC for the first time since 1990. In the process, they rattled off four-straight conference wins for the first time since 1980.The Pioneers' exorcised road demons including wins at UW-River Falls for the first time since 1981, at UW-Stevens Point since 1988 and at UW-Stout since 1999. They went toe-to-toe with No. 1 and eventual national champion with UW-Whitewater, despite missing significant amount of players to injuries, where the Warhawks were tied or trailed at halftime in a WIAC contest since the 2007 season.
Three of the four Pioneer losses came to top 25 teams with losses to then, No. 1 UW-Whitewater, No. 7 Wheaton and No. 25 UW-Oshkosh. Offensively, UW-Platteville racked up 196 first downs and 3,529 yards of total offense for its highest efforts since the 2007 campaign. Defensively, they held opponents to 3,160 yards and 177 points, the best performance since the 1992 season. Five members of the UW-Platteville offense, four members of the defense and three members of special teams units picked up all-WIAC recognition.
In 1999, his very first year, the Pioneers snapped a 24-game WIAC losing streak with a stunning 27-14 win over UW-La Crosse. The Pioneers more than lived up to their “Thrill is in the Air” motto, as they passed for 2,651 yards and 20 touchdowns, in stark contrast from their former Wing-T running attack. UW-Platteville fans embraced their exciting brand of ball as well, with attendance jumping by an average of 904 fans per game from the previous year.
The Pioneers have produced some memorable moments over Emendorfer’s tensure, such as beating WIAC favorite UW-Stout 34-31 in overtime on Homecoming 2002 and topping NCAA Division I Drake 21-20 in 2003 and again by 33-23 in 2004. UW-Platteville won two games on the final play in 2004, defeating Augustana 25-23 on a last-second field goal and UW-Eau Claire 20-17, when Emendorfer by-passed a chip shot field goal and went for the win with a successful one-yard touchdown plunge. In 2006, the Pioneers overcame a 20-3 deficit to defeat UW-Stout 31-27 during a nationally televised game by Fox Sports Net. The 2007 season featured a 16-6 win over NAIA power St. Ambrose and a 37-34 last-second win over UW-La Crosse, also televised by FSN Wisconsin. The 2008 campaign featured back-to-back conference shutout wins for the first time since 1950, as the Pioneers beat UW-River Falls 7-0 and UW-Oshkosh 28-0 on successive weekends. The 2010 season saw the Pioneers post a win over No. 17 UW-Eau Claire and the first victory at UW-La Crosse since 1980 as 12 members earned all-WIAC recognition.
He and his wife, Lisa, have two children, son Logan, and daughter Rachel. Lisa is a lecturer in both the School of Education and the Health and Physical Education program. Logan is a senior defensive back for the Pioneers, and Rachel is a senior at Platteville High School.