Despite a couple of winless seasons, Sheboygan North’s football team believes in itself.
“We’re starting to get away from ‘we’re North football,’” Golden Raiders’ coach Jim O’Brien said. “I think we’ve gotten away from that.
“Maybe the rest of the world hasn’t, which is OK, but I think within our locker room we’ve got some guys that are really confident in what they can do and what we can do as a team. I think we’ve got some guys that are confident we’re going to get some wins this year, and I’m real excited to see what they can do.”
Seven starters return on offense, led by two senior all-Fox River Classic Conference players.
One is quarterback Turner Kraus, who made the second team after throwing four touchdown passes and running for 10 TDs.
O’Brien calls him a dynamic player who “turned everything around” after the fourth week last season.
“Then he had five straight weeks of, in my opinion, some really good success,” O’Brien said. “I’m really excited about him coming back.”
The coach is also glad for the return of offensive lineman Cassius Rohadfox, another second-team selection who begins his fourth season on varsity and is receiving interest from Division I schools.
Senior running back Isaiah Love-Beringer, junior running Karter Bell, senior offensive lineman Gage Oldenburg, junior tight end Ben Vorpal and senior wide Cole Hermann – he’s recovered from a broken collarbone sustained last season – are the remaining starters that are back.
Senior running back Preston Schaetzer also played a key role last season.
“We’re building this thing up and we’ve really made some progress,” O’Brien said. “I think they’ve all been instrumental in buying into the program and the offense, and not only that, but also executing at a pretty high level last year toward the end of the season.”
Change on defense: After using a 5-3 scheme last year, North is back to more of a 4-4.
“We’ve struggled a lot over the course of the last several years here defensively,” O’Brien said. “Last year we wanted to try something different and maybe even hyper-focus on stopping the run, so we went to more of a 5-front. We really didn’t necessarily do what we put out to do last year. And I don’t really think you can call it the scheme’s fault, but this year we have less linemen. …
“So we’re going to focus on playing holistic defense: pass, run, getting guys to the ball and tackling.”
Five starters return defensively in senior linebacker Everett Strean, junior cornerback Zane Tinkle, outside linebacker Bell and defensive tackles Rohadfox and Oldenburg.
Schedule much better: Last year, North had to face the top three teams in the conference and then rival South in the first four weeks of the season.
This season, Notre Dame and Pulaski are still early-season contests, but the Golden Raiders don’t face Bay Port until Week 6 and the Redwings the following game.
However, only one of the first four games are at home this year.
NORTH AT A GLANCE
Coach: Joe O’Brien
Last year: 0-9 (0-9 FRC, 10th)
Reigning champ: Bay Port
*Seven starters return on offense, including all-conference players Turner Kraus (quarterback) and Cassius Rohadfox (offensive lineman).
*Five starters are back on defense, which now uses a 4-4 scheme.
*North owns a 19-game losing streak.
Fox River Classic
*Bay Port (Div. 1), Pulaski (Div. 2) and Notre Dame (Div. 3) reached the state quarterfinals a year ago.
*The Pirates have won the last three league titles with a combined record of 27-0.
*Bay Port senior Max Meeuwsen is the reigning defensive player of the year in the conference.
*Pulaski running back Dylan Hendricks, the offensive player of the year in the FRC, graduated.
All games at 7 p.m.
Aug. 22 at Notre Dame
Aug. 30 at Ashwaubenon
Sept. 6 Pulaski
Sept. 13 at Man. Lincoln
Sept. 20 Preble
Sept. 27 Bay Port
Oct. 4 at South
Oct. 11 De Pere
Oct. 18 at Southwest