Menominee Indian hoping for bounce back season

Eagles open season on road against Lena/STAA
By: 

Greg Bates Leader Correspondent

Last season was a one-man show for the Menominee Indian football team.

Meshaen Waukau, who was named to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State Team and was co-offensive player of the year in the MONLPC, rushed for 1,963 yards and 18 touchdowns. However, the Eagles finished with a 1-8 record.

Waukau graduated, and the rest of the young Menominee Indian players from a season ago matured on the field. Coach Chris Clache, entering his 17th year, is expecting a better season.

“We were better than that last year, and we underachieved in a lot of games we played,” Clache said. “I don’t think that will be a problem this year.”

Menominee Indian, which plays eight-man football, returns four starters on offense. The entire line is back with center Hunter Connavichnah and guards James Peters and Cole Pecore.

“We’re more knowledgeable about what’s going on and what kind of play style my coach has because we’ve been playing for him for a little while now,” Connavichnah said.

Darius Wayka was Waukau’s lead blocker last season, but Wayka still ran for more than 300 yards at 9 yards per carry. He, Pasen Waupoose and Adrian Waupoose will share carries this year.

“We’ve got to distribute the ball more,” Clache said. “I think part of it was that was all we had. (Waukau) was the only one I could really trust that was going to be there. He put in the time in the summer, and he was able to handle the load.”

Tiger Dixon came over from Shawano and will be the team’s quarterback. However, since he transferred, the junior will be forced to sit the first couple games. Freshman Alex Corn will begin the season behind center.

Defensively, Menominee Indian returns three starters in Peters, Connavichnah — who was second team all-conference — and Wayka, a first-team all-MONLPC selection.

Coach Clache has Corey Webster back as the defensive coordinator after the two coached together for 15 years.

“He’s bringing that style of defense that I like,” Clache said. “We’re focusing more on athleticism, and I’ve always trusted him. At the scrimmage, we looked pretty good on defense. It was nice to see.”

Clache was pleased to see his guys working out in the offseason and dedicating themselves to the sport.

“Our coach opened up the weight room during the summer, and most of our players have been in there just really working on getting a lot of strength,” Pecore said.

AT A GLANCE

All games at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted.

Friday, Aug. 17 — Menominee Indian at Lena/STAA

Thursday, Aug. 23 — Gillett at Menominee Indian, 4 p.m.

Thursday. Aug. 30 — Menominee Indian at Gibraltar

Friday, Sept. 7 — Menominee Indian at Clayton

Friday, Sept. 14 — Menominee Indian at Wausaukee

Friday, Sept 21 — Sevastopol at Menominee Indian, 4 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 28 — Menominee Indian at Oneida Nation

Friday, Oct. 5 — Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran/Providence Academy at Menominee Indian, 4 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 13 — Florence at Menominee Indian, 1 p.m.