Area teams ready to hit gridiron again

Three teams to play home openers
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Leader photo by Morgan Rode Shawano players gather around coach Alan Tomow during the team’s week one loss to West De Pere.

The first week of the high school football season is now behind us.

Bonduel and Wittenberg-Birnamwood each claimed week one wins on the road while Shawano, Clintonville, Marion/Tigerton and Menominee Indian fell short.

Regardless of their week one outcomes, each team is eager to get back on the field.

Bonduel is coming off a 27-12 win over Coleman, which has the team’s confidence level riding high.

“Going into the game, we weren’t exactly sure what we were made of. We lost a lot of key guys from last year, and there were a lot of shoes to fill, especially on the line,” said Riddik Bohm, who rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns. “We gave up a touchdown early, but we battled back and didn’t look back after that. Getting a big win week one with an unproven team has really lifted everyone’s confidence in one another.”

This week, the Bears will host Peshtigo, which opened the year with a win over Two Rivers behind a four-TD performance by Jared Jandt. Bonduel and Peshtigo also battled in week two of the 2017 season, with Bonduel claiming a 45-20 road win.

In order to win this year’s clash, Bonduel coach James Westrich wants his team to learn from its week one win.

“The team played very aggressively on both sides of the ball,” he said. “We had some success throwing the ball and ran the ball decently. Defensively we forced two turnovers and played the pass well. We had a lot of mental mistakes on both sides of the ball that we need to clean up for this week. We will need to build on our aggressive style of play while minimizing our mental mistakes. We will also need to win the turnover battle.”

Following a 42-0 setback to a tough West De Pere squad, Shawano will look to pick up its first win of the season when hosting Waupaca.

In last year’s matchup, Shawano used a second half rally to stun Waupaca 35-34. Coach Alan Tomow and the Hawks know these are the games they need to win to have a successful season and secure a playoff berth.

“Our league is balanced in the middle, and we are just trying to put ourselves in position to finish in the top half,” Tomow said. “In order to come out ahead this week, we need to clean up the details in our assignments and be better in situational football (third downs, red zone). We are looking forward to another fun matchup with Waupaca.”

Wittenberg-Birnamwood will hope to carry over momentum from a 38-22 road win over Northland Pines. The Chargers will travel to take on Crandon, which lost to Abbotsford 78-0 last week.

A year ago, Wittenberg-Birnamwood handed Crandon one of its three losses, claiming a 30-20 win at home. In that game, the Chargers rushed for 307 yards and four scores.

“We know they are a solid team and are fairly big across their front eight, but I believe we have the mental advantage,” said Ethan Wesolowski, who rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns in week one. “Our coaches are pushing us harder than ever this year to stay conditioned and focus on technique. And I think that will allow us to be very successful.”

Clintonville, which suffered a 41-7 loss to Fox Valley Lutheran, will look to earn its first win of the season in a road matchup against Freedom, which dropped a 27-13 final to Little Chute.

Last year, Freedom picked up a 48-0 North Eastern Conference win over Clintonville.

The Marion/Tigerton co-op suffered a 55-18 loss to Northern Elite to open the season.

Coach Lance Litchfield was encouraged by the play of the offense but knows the defense will need to improve going forward.

“We did a good job of sustaining blocks and making plays when given the opportunity,” he said. “We need to cut down on giving up the big play. We gave up three big scoring plays that gashed us.”

The co-op, which scored points in just two games last year, will travel to take on Elcho/White Lake for its week two matchup. The two teams scrimmaged each other earlier in the month.

At the eight-man level, Menominee Indian is hoping to erase the memory of a 44-0 week one loss to Lena/STAA. The Eagles host Gillett on Thursday.

“We got to start on the right foot this week,” Menominee Indian coach Chris Clache said. “We had just everything go wrong from the opening kickoff (last week). We were not ready to play, which I take responsibility for. It seemed like we were just going through the motions. Some of our younger guys are going to have to grow up fast.”