Purple Knights proving futbol, not football, is king in Beloit - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Purple Knights proving futbol, not football, is king in Beloit

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BELOIT, Wis. (WKOW) -- At a time where football dominates Friday nights, the Purple Knights are proving that futbol is king in Beloit.

At 21-2-5, the Beloit Memorial boys soccer team has scored a trip to the state tournament for the first time in school history.

"When we punched that ticket," said head coach Brian Denu, "it was not necessarily a relief, but we knew we were a good team, and now everyone else understands we have a good team, as well."

But not everyone else may actually understand this team. That's because the roster is nearly all Latino.

"Since we have mostly Latinos, we do speak Spanish during games and practice," said junior center-midfielder Jose Barron. "And sometimes we try getting the people who don't speak Spanish to talk in Spanish.

Coach Denu admits, he doesn't speak a lot of the language. 

"I'm learning as we go along," said Denu, who is in his sixth year of coaching the Knights. "I wish I knew more Spanish. I should've paid more attention in high school, for sure."

The recent influx of Latinos moving into the Beloit community has helped fuel the team's success.

"Most of these kids have been playing together since they were young," said Barron. "We always get together and talk about how we want to be professional soccer players."

"We always say, we don't care what you are; we just want you to be a good soccer player and a good kid," said Denu. "And we have them here. It just so happens this year that there are 22 of them that are Latino."

The crowd numbers have soared to reflect the growing interest, from several dozen to several hundred. And the team does not take the support for granted. After each game, the Knights make their top priority going over to the bleachers and thanking the fans.

"When they cheer, they give you that extra push to keep going even though you can't even feel your legs" said senior center-midfielder Joe Gutierrez. "They give you that extra something. They don't mind driving an hour, two hours to come to our games, and we have to appreciate that."

"Our kids are really cognizant that to have fans is a big thing," explained Denu, "and it's neat that our kids understand that and hustle over to them and show their respect for that."

The Knights are hoping they can raise a gold ball in front of those fans on Saturday.

"Bringing a state championship back here would just pay off all the work we've done," said Gutierrez.

"Just to get there has been such a wonderful feeling," said Denu, "but I don't think words can express what it would mean to us."

Beloit Memorial will face Menominee Falls Friday at 7 p.m. in the semi-finals.

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