CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -As the Southeast Missouri State University football team heads to round two of the FCS playoffs, a proud mom will follow them to Utah to cheer on her son.
“He would look up to me I remember as a 6-year-old and say, ‘Mom I really wanna play on that field someday’. And, I can remember exactly saying as parents do, and he made his dreams come true,” said Julia Unnerstall, mother of Zach Stagner, the Redhawks long snapper.
“And I always go back to the first time that we met Coach Tuke, and he invited us in for an official visit. And what an incredible journey,” said Unnerstall.
This is Zach’s fifth season on the team.
"He’s grown academically, he’s grown athletically, and he’s grown as a man, a good man, and I’m so grateful for the experience,” said Unnerstall.
So, when they made it to the next playoff round, Unnerstall knew she wanted to be there in person. And she’s bringing her good luck jewelry with her.
“All of it’s going to Utah, even the pom poms,” said Unnerstall.
She said it’s a thrill to see how far Southeast has come.
"I’m so excited for the football families and the fans that can be there to be in the stands and when they run out on that field, we are going to be cheering, really loud,” said Unnerstall.
Another experience she’ll always remember is when her son received a surprise full-ride scholarship to SEMO.
His teammates celebrated him and lifted him on their shoulders at the announcement.
"Being an educator, that moment of when his teammates lifted him up on their shoulders was a moment I wish every child could experience when they’re celebrated by their peers,” said Unnerstall.
And now, the team has been celebrating making Redhawk history together.
“And you can see it on the sidelines the celebration," Unnerstall said. “That one play that really turns it all around and you just feel in the stands, you can even feel the energy of the players just shift, and then there they go. And it’s like they’re unstoppable."
Stagner will graduate this December, and his mom says he’ll take with him the lessons he’s learned from being a part of the team and a Southeast student.