The New Holstein High School football team has been playing at a statistical disadvantage for years as the smallest school in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference. But that didn’t stop the Huskies from making the postseason in five straight seasons.
That streak ended last year with a 1-8 season and a winless conference campaign.
“I’d say it was a huge disappointment to everybody,” senior Josh Nisler said. “I thought we could do a lot better than that.”
New Holstein’s trying to erase those painful memories this year. The talent may not be the same as during the playoff stretch, but the team’s captains and its first-year head coach Matt Rupp are convinced that this team has the intangibles to hang tough with schools that have at least 100 more students and in Plymouth’s case twice as big as New Holstein.
“We’re really meshing as a team,” said senior lineman Shaun Mayr. “We’re not blaming one person. We’re taking the blame as a team; we’re celebrating as a team. It’s not just one person.”
Rupp has been in the program for 10 years as an assistant and has kept things mostly the same with a Wing-T offense and a 4-4 defensive front. But, much like their head coach, most of the players have new roles. Only two starters return from last year.
“My biggest concern is I think we’re inexperienced overall,” Rupp said. “We don’t have a lot of returning starters so a lot of these guys haven’t played in a varsity game before. So how they will respond? That’s an unknown part.”
Rupp hopes that while the school is small, his team won’t be overmatched in the trenches.
Mayr (6-4, 285) and Bobby Scherer (6-3, 240) were slated for the defensive tackle spots and Alex Secord (5-10, 220) had an end spot locked down.
“I’m excited about our (defensive) line,” Rupp said. “I think our line is much improved we really worked hard in the weight room to get strong and they seem to be doing things right.”
Mayr said Secord was impressing him with his intensity in practice.
Behind the line, Josh Nisler and Nathan Kaiser are expected to lead the linebackers and Mark Sippel is scheduled to start at the safety position.
Mayr and Scherer will be anchoring the offensive line and Rupp said sophomore Devon Johnson was constantly showing improvement at the center position.
Justin Frish will open the season at quarterback and he has speedy wingbacks in Mike Blanck, Devon Olm and Adam Schmitz.