Meet the Fox River Raiders, a semi-pro football team based here in Oshkosh. Founded in 2015, the Fox River Raiders took care of business this season, going 7-1 and playing this next week in the conference championship game.
The OI asked Raiders co-owner Michael Jerrick a few questions.
OI: Where do you play for home games?
Michael Jerrick (MJ): We play our home games at Lourdes Academy. They have been tremendous hosts to us and have given us a chance to play on their field when no one else would. We can’t thank Lourdes athletic director Kevin Wopat and his staff enough.
OI: Who do you play?
MJ: We play teams that hail from all over. We are currently playing in the Northern Lights Football League (NLFL). We travel as far north as The U.P. to play the U.P Arctic Blast and as far south to Roscoe Illinois to play the Roscoe Revolution. There are eight teams overall in our league.
OI: Who plays for you?
MJ: We have individuals from all walks of life who play for us. Some athletes are playing for the first time and others just playing because they love the sport and don’t want to give it up. The furthest distance players travel is from Chicago, while the closest players live here in Oshkosh. Anyone from the ages of 18 to 65 can join the team (yes sixty-five: another team had a sixty-five year old retire last season!)
OI: What is the history of the Raiders?
MJ: We were founded in 2015. The first season was in Brillion and now we play our games in Oshkosh. We practice in Appleton, which is a more central location for everyone.
We are currently at the tail end third season. I ran the team for the opening season and then brought on my current partner Mike Webb last season. We now are co-owners as well as the team’s coaches (Mike is the head coach and offensive coordinator and I am the defensive coordinator.)
This is our second year coaching the team. We were thrust into the positions last year after our first year coaches moved on. We are very hands on and take care of everything from coaching the team to laminating the concession menus. We wear many hats. It has become a 24/7 thing all year around. Mike and I try to put guys in the best position to win. We feel that hard work pays off and this will be our third season in a row we’ve made it to the conference title game.
OI: Semi-pro? Like Will Ferrell?
MJ: Haha. Its started out that way. We weren’t all that good. To make matters worse we had the most boring uniforms. A deal was found online for old high school uniforms for $400 and they were just white jerseys with burgundy numbers. So generic and so ugly. Thinking about it now I laugh about it because it was so bad.
Our conference title game we had to wear Appleton West Jerseys because that week I washed our jerseys and the dryer became too hot and melted the jerseys together. Embarrassing then, but funny now looking back at it.
I think we only won 2 games our first season, both against the same team. I didn’t think we would have a second season. I was frustrated because it wasn’t what I thought it would be and much more work then I expected. But I soldiered on and when Mike came aboard it became much easier and we started to put together a winning team.
OI: When is your season?
MJ: Our regular season is over. It goes from the first week in May through the beginning of July. We finished with a league best 7-1 record.
We will be hosting the NLFL (Northern Lights Football League) South Conference Championship July 22nd at Lourdes. Kickoff is 3 PM and admission is $8. As always, concessions will be available. The winner will advance to the title game held at Ripon College July 29th.
OI: Where can folks go to find our more info?
MJ: Twitter @foxriverraiders, Instagram @foxriverraiders, Facebook, which is probably the easiest and most popular facebook.com/foxriverraiders1, and we also have our website www.foxriverraiders.com.
OI: Best of luck in your conference title game!
(images by Vee Lee courtesy of Fox River Raiders, banner image: Mike Webb on the Left and Michael Jerrick on the Right)