New London’s young players face tough season
By Scott Bellile
With a young roster for the New London Bulldogs football team this year, coach Marc Marsh is teaching his players early in the season how to conquer hardship.
The Bulldogs have just five seniors and eight juniors listed on the varsity roster, but their numbers are also going up. A dozen more boys came out since last year to make the team about 70 players strong between the freshman and varsity teams.
The added depth could turn things around after last year’s 2-7 season.
“We’re really talking this year about being mentally tough,” Marsh said. “We want to make sure we can handle adversity through the good times, through the bad times, whatever it may be. We want to be mentally tough and stay together as a team.”
Marsh said he and his assistant coaches give their players tough situations in practice to overcome while testing their mental toughness along the way.
“We have high expectations for these kids,” he said. “We’re going to work them hard here and we want their best effort at practice. We talk about now when things don’t go so good for us, here’s a time of adversity, we’ve got two decisions. We’re going to overcome it (and therefore) we’re going to become better for it or we’re going to shy away from it.”
The Bulldogs’ lack of seniority stems from having no junior varsity team for the last two years, Marsh said.
“We’re hoping with our sophomores we’ve got some guys that, by ability and by some time they’ve put in, they’re ready to play some varsity football,” he said.
Senior lineman Matt Wunderlich said as much as he’d like to have more representation on the field by the class of 2016, the underclassmen will step up.
“It’ll be a little harder, but we’re up for the challenge,” he said.
Marsh said the Bulldogs’ top prospects include Wunderlich; senior receiver Hunter Zaddack; sophomore quarterback and second team all-Bay Conference kicker Jack Noffke; and senior tailback Jonah Backus. Michael Salazar, Brayden Kurth and Parker Fermanich should make for a solid squad of sophomore receivers.
“I think we have a really good group of young kids that love football,” Marsh said. “They love the game of football, they’ve got a passion for it. I think we have some skilled kids. Our receivers, our backs, our quarterback. I think we’re really starting to get a good nucleus of skilled receivers.”
Although the Bay Conference shuffles this year, Seymour, Shawano, West De Pere and Menasha won’t be going anywhere. Marsh predicted Menasha will again be the Bulldogs’ toughest opponent. Last year they handed the Bulldogs a 41-7 loss and went on to win a Division 2 state championship.
“They won the conference last year (and) they won state,” Marsh said. “They’re the team to beat, so everybody’s going to be shooting for them. They’re the team to knock off.”
The Bulldogs will lose Luxemburg-Casco, Denmark, Marinette and Oconto Falls. They’ll gain Waupaca, Green Bay East, Green Bay West and Xavier.
“We’re going to have some new looks and a little shorter travels for us, too,” Marsh said. “We’re excited to see someone new and see what our new conference is about.”
• Scott Bellile covers Clintonville, New London and Hortonville sports for The New London Press Star and Clintonville Tribune-Gazette. He can be reached at email@example.com or 920-982-2511.