Marion/Tigerton trying to build culture under new coach

Co-op will open the season against Northern Elite
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Marion/Tigerton co-op football coach Lance Litchfield will face a unique challenge during the upcoming season.

Not only will the season mark the first year Litchfield will be the team’s head coach, but also the final year the co-op competes as an 11-man team. Next year, the team will make the transition to eight-man football.

Don’t expect the Thundercatz to be looking forward to next year though.

“With this being our last year of 11-man, we will attempt to prove we can still be competitive playing 11-man,” Jared Krueger said. “This will show us promise towards a successful eight-man season next year.”

Since the first day of practice on Aug. 1, Litchfield and the Marion/Tigerton coaching staff has been preaching a new culture.

“It does not matter if a player is from Marion or a player is from Tigerton. We all wear the same colored jersey and have to come together as a team,” Litchfield said.

Players from both schools have bought into Litchfield’s message.

“Having two schools come together is fun. You get to meet new people and compete with them towards the main goal,” Charles Schweitzer said. “Coaches have made us act like a team. They do not care which school we are from. They care we are all Thundercatz.”

“Playing with a different school is a lot more fun,” Austin Hoffmann said. “We get to be around different players and we get to know each other. The coaches think of us as one so we play and act like one.”

Anthony Tischauser is one of just a few seniors on the team, but offers a veteran voice for the otherwise young team. Krueger and Allen Jobe, both juniors, and Schweitzer, a sophomore, also started for the co-op last year.

Jobe and Krueger will be tasked in trying to fill the void left by lineman Kyle Goke, a second team all-conference pick on offense and honorable mention selection on defense.

Hoffmann, a junior, will open the year as the team’s quarterback while also playing in the secondary on defense. Mitchell Zimdars will serve as one of Hoffmann’s top targets in the passing game from his wideout position and also play in the secondary.

The team is coming off a season in which its lone win came as a result of a Port Edwards forfeit. Last year, Wild Rose went 6-0 in conference play to win the division, with Pittsville (5-1) and Almond-Bancroft (4-2) coming in second and third, respectively.

This year, the Central Wisconsin Conference-Small Division will feature six teams.

Marion/Tigerton knows a stiff test awaits in divisional play, but Litchfield believes his team is ready.

“We are a very young team but we are returning our whole offensive line from last year,” Litchfield said. “I believe if our team does the job they are supposed to do we can succeed on the field. As a team we are looking to get better every week.”

AT A GLANCE

All games at 7 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 17 — Northern Elite at Marion/Tigerton

Thursday, Aug. 23 — Marion/Tigerton at Elcho/White Lake

Friday, Aug. 31 — Northland Pines at Marion/Tigerton

Friday, Sept. 7 — Marion/Tigerton at Rosholt

Friday, Sept. 14 — Tri-County at Marion/Tigerton

Friday, Sept. 21 — Marion/Tigerton at Pittsville

Friday, Sept. 28 — Algoma at Marion/Tigerton

Friday, Oct. 5 — Wild Rose at Marion/Tigerton

Friday, Oct. 12 — Marion/Tigerton at Almond-Bancroft