There will be one more game at the high school level for four area prep football standouts.
It won’t be the last time a few of them wear football pads, but Saturday’s Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star Game will signal the end of an era for all four.
Fond du Lac’s Peter Andrew, Waupun’s Adrian Harmsen and St. Mary’s Springs’ Zach Hintze and Dominic Belisle will all take the field at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh on Saturday as high school athletes. When they walk off, they’ll no longer hold that distinction.
“It will be sad,” Hintze said, acknowledging that fact. “But my coaches have gotten me ready for the next level.”
Hintze, along with Belisle, will be playing for the South in the Small School All-Star Game, which includes Divisions 4-7 and begins at 2 p.m.
Both Hintze and Belisle played key roles on a St. Mary’s Springs squad that won the WIAA Division 6 state title back in November.
Hintze was an Associated Press first team all-state selection as a kicker after going 15-for-21 on field goal attempts, 66-of-70 on extra-point attempts and drilling a state-record, 61-yard field goal in a playoff game against Algoma in October. Hintze will be a preferred walk-on for the University of Wisconsin football team this fall.
Although he will playing a bit of wide receiver in Saturday’s game, Hintze is hoping to get at least a few field goal attempts as he transitions from kicking off a tee in high school to kicking off the ground in college.
Meanwhile, Belisle will look to make his mark on the defensive side of the ball after earning an AP second team all-state selection as a defensive lineman and winning Flyway Conference Defensive Player of the Year in the fall. He had 49 tackles and five sacks in 2014.
Belisle plans to play football at UW-Stevens Point in the fall and is hoping to end his high school career on a high note, especially with college camp beginning only weeks after the conclusion of Saturday’s game.
“It would be good to have a good week of practice,” Belisle said. “Just getting used to the pads and running around, getting a head start on everyone else.”
Like Hintze, Belisle has conflicting feelings about playing in his final event as a prep athlete.
“It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling,” Belisle said. “It’s sweet to know how good our (high school) season was and how I get to play there (at the all-star game). But it’s done after this and there’s no going back.”
Harmsen and Andrew will be competing for the North in the Large School All-Star Game, which includes Divisions 1-3 and begins at 6 p.m.
Harmsen was a first team All-Eastern Wisconsin Conference running back after rushing for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior. He’s hoping to get some playing time in the backfield as well as at slot receiver, but he’s simply happy to have the opportunity to compete with some of the best players in the state as one last hurrah before heading to Winona State to play for the Warriors football team.
“It’s an honor and a privilege,” Harmsen said. “I’m really excited to play with the best of the best. To see what we can put together and if we can make everything work in a week. It will be something cool. … I just want to end high school on a high note. This is one final gift, I guess you could say, that has high school sports has brought me.”
Andrew, an AP second team all-state selection and the Valley Football Association South Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2014, will be playing his final competitive football game on Saturday. The Fond du Lac grad is heading to UW-Milwaukee on a track and field scholarship, meaning the end of football for one of the state’s better offensive linemen.
“It’s really cool to get one more game and one more week to throw on the pads,” Andrew said. “Especially to be playing with the players of the caliber that are at this game. It’s really a cool thing to be a part of. … I hope to end my football career on a good note, because our (varsity) season didn’t really go how we wanted it to. We wanted to win the state championship. Hopefully I’m ending on a win here and playing the best I can.”
Sam Oleson: (920) 907-7930, email@example.com or follow on Twitter @sam_olesonFDL