Familiar face takes over at Neillsville

Familiar face takes over at Neillsville

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Familiar face takes over at Neillsville

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NEILLSVILLE

Neillsville has another new football coach.

This one, however, should seem more familiar.

John O’Leary takes over the helm at Neillsville, but he’s no stranger, having taught school there the past 25 years. O’Leary was Neillsville’s baseball coach from 1991-2004. He even was on the football staff in the early 1990’s.

“I feel bad for our players because I will be the third coach in the last three years,” said O’Leary. “It is hard to win without continuity. Hopefully I can provide some stability to our program.”

It is a program that has won just five games the past two seasons, having last won a playoff game in 2009 after a seven-win season.

This year’s roster is stacked with sophomores so perhaps there are good things on the horizon.

In 2011 the team was outscored 265-107 and lost their starting quarterback and leading rusher to graduation.

Their second leading rusher, Matt Dux, will return. He ran for almost 400 yards a year ago and averaged five yards a carry with three touchdowns. Fellow senior Sean Stanga rushed for 243 yards on almost four yards a carry and four TD’s.

Dux also was the leading receiver last season averaging almost 17 yards a catch. Dux will apparently see some time behind center as well this season.

The remaining returning players include seniors Logan Mabie, Anthony Meshnick, Hank Knoll, Jordan Jacobson and Nick Thoma.

The returning juniors are Ben Anding, Eric Pekol, Tristan Yellowcloud and Matt Grottke.

“Speed will be our strength,” said O’Leary. “Experience and depth are always a concern.”

“I also know that the Cloverbelt has some of the best coaches in the state. We will have to get better in a lot of areas if we are to compete with the upper tier teams in the Cloverbelt.”

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