NORTH, SOUTH FOOTBALL PREVIEW
Lack of season in fall delayed campaign to March, April
Perhaps it would have been easier to just keep the football helmets and shoulder pads.
North and South’s team competed in the alternative fall season that wrapped up at the end of April and quickly returned to practice a couple of weeks ago.
“We’re just happy to be able to have what’s to be a normal start to our season,” Redwings coach Jason Harder said.
Last season began March 26; this season got underway Friday.
“Usually I’m coaching track and I had three more weeks of football,” Golden Raiders coach Joe O’Brien said. “That was the biggest difference for me. And having the short turnaround time. For the most part, I was talking with my staff about treating that spring season like college spring ball.”
AT A GLANCE
• The squad was 3-4 last year (alternate fall) – its most wins since 2010 – after winning a total of only three games the previous six seasons.
• Four players who made the all-Fox Valley Classic Conference first team (Division D) return: seniors Trenton Tagel (offensive lineman) and Brandon Shoen (defensive back), and juniors Mason Debbink (offensive lineman) and Jacob Fox (kicker).
• Second-team players include: the senior Tagel (DE), and juniors Max Tutas (QB), Matthew Vanderwege (OL/DL), Jonah Weinfurter (DL), Tommy Basler (ILB) and Fox (Punter).
• Quotable: “We’ve got a very hungry group,” coach Joe O’Brien said. “They come every single day ready to go, ready to practice, ready to work their tails off. If we want to go a little bit longer, they don’t fuss about it. They’re eager to have a really good football season.”
• Junior offensive lineman Ahren Hall is back after earning all-conference second team. “He was definitely deserving,” coach Jason Harder said. “He worked really hard in the short offseason we had. He’s back and ready to go.”
• Senior Austin Stelter, an outside linebacker, also got second-team recognition and Harder calls him a workout warrior who is always in the gym. “He’s always physically ready to roll and is a good, instinctually player on both sides of the ball,” he said.
• Inside linebacker Connor McKenzie graduated; last year he was tabbed the defensive player of the year in the FVCC (Division D). “I think we’ll replace him with kind of a grouping of a lot of other young defenders,” Harder said. “It’s always fun to watch learning grow.”
• Six others who made first-team all-conference have to be replaced as well.
• Quotable: “There’s time where you look at (a lot of our sophomores), they’re really good and really coachable, they focus in most of the time and then times they look like sophomores,” Harder said. “So there’s that challenge of getting those guys ready the best that we can. The other side of it is they worked really hard at it, so they will be ready. We’re going to have some learning to do, but that’s part of the process and we’re just excited to have them all.”