Injuries kept Cody Chase from spending much time on the football field, basketball court and track during his senior season at Weyauwega-Fremont High School.
A hamstring injury also kept him out of the lineup for the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star Classic, but that couldn’t keep him from enjoying the week he spent with some of the state’s top football players.
Chase joined more than 150 other recently graduated players from throughout the state July 19 for a pair of games at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh.
Chase, Iola-Scandinavia’s Isaac Lashua and Amherst’s Colton Boelte and Garth Groshek suited up for the North squad in the divisions 4-7 game, while Waupaca’s Zander Neuville and Nate Jenson and Hortonville’s Andrew Thompson, Alex Lasinski and Tyler Powers were on the North team in the divisions 1-3 game.
The South came out on top with a 33-13 victory in the small-school contest and a 24-8 win in the large-school game.
The players also raised money for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
“It was a great experience and a good thing for Children’s Hospital,” Chase said. “I’m glad I got to do that. It was a great experience to raise money for them.”
Chase’s dad, Tom, the varsity coach at Weyauwega-Fremont, was an assistant coach on the North team in the small-school game.
“All the kids here are great, high-character kids and very good football players,” he said. “They put things that are important first.”
“The first day was a little shaky, but after the Sunday night practice, we started hanging out in each others’ rooms and bonding with each other,” Cody said. “It was a really cool experience. It’s really not different (than W-F football) to me. These guys are all my teammates, just like the guys back home.”
It won’t be long before Chase hits the football field again, as he will attend Ripon College, the same school his brother Chris attended.
“The coach wants me to play fullback,” Cody said.
Tom said he appreciated being on the sidelines for his son’s final high school game.
“Unfortunately, he had a tear in his hamstring earlier in the week, but to have him be out here with these guys, it’s fun, a great family bonding thing,” he said.
Tom was the head coach of the 2009 North team.
“You only get to do this once,” he said. “First of all, you have to be lucky to get here. The North squad raised $114,000 or something like that, a lot of money is raised for Children’s Hospital. I think they all understood that. That’s probably the most important thing: coming here together and bonding as a group. It was a neat thing to see. The kids become close and lifetime friends. With all the social media out there, you can’t lose track of these guys.”
Neuville, a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin, took a break from working out in Madison to attend the game.
“It’s going really well,” he said. “I moved in June 9 and pretty much got right into it with the workouts. They’ve been really tough, but at the same time, I like them. I like how they run it down there.”
Neuville, who missed the end of his senior season with the Comets after coming down with mononucleosis, is penciled in as an outside linebacker with the Badgers.
“I worked with (coach Gary Andersen) a couple times and I really like him as a coach,” he said. “I talked to a lot of the older guys and every one of them said he’s a players’ coach. He really is. He’s a good guy, but he’s tough on us, too.”
Neuville was on the sidelines for Waupaca’s Level 2 playoff loss to Seymour in November and the all-star game gave him one last chance to play high school football. A preferred walk-on offer from the Badgers came after Neuville had accepted an offer to play football at Minnesota State in Mankato.
“It’s a huge honor,” he said of being picked for the All-Star Classic. “I didn’t get to finish my high school career the way I wanted to, but this definitely finishes it for me in a positive way. I met a lot of great guys this week and it was a blast to be down here.”