Polar Bears ready for second season in VFA conference
By Scott Bellile
Hortonville settled into the Valley Football Association-South Division last season with an impressive 5-2 conference record against some of Wisconsin’s largest high schools.
Coach Tom Kolosso said his boys are ready for success in year two as long as they stay on top of their game.
“The thing about (the VFA) is anybody can beat you,” he said. “There are not teams at the bottom that you think, ‘Oh, you know, this is going to be a win this week.’ Everybody can beat you on a given day.”
The Polar Bears had dominated as the Bay Conference’s largest school and gave up 50 points during regular season play in 2013.
“Our last year in the Bay, our starters didn’t have to play in like six of the second halves because the game was already running clock,” Kolosso said. “We were up by 30 or 40 points, so our starters would rest for the second half, where here, we’re always playing a four-quarter game.”
Hortonville remains a fierce competitor against the VFA South’s schools with high enrollment, but the Polar Bears must maintain their depth and steer clear of injuries, Kolosso said.
The Polar Bears’ conference opponents are Neenah, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh North, Oshkosh West, Stevens Point, Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids.
An Aug. 28 crossover game against Appleton North of the VFA-North Division will count toward this season’s conference standings. Meanwhile, Hortonville’s Aug. 21 season opener against Appleton West, also of the VFA-North Division, will not count as conference play.
If the Polar Bears stay on top of their game, they could accomplish Kolosso’s goal of earning the conference title. Hortonville had two losses in conference play last year and both were slim. The Polar Bears gave up one point to Oshkosh North and two points to Fond du Lac.
The transition to the VFA went well last year, Kolosso said.
“I think a lot of people were worried,” he said. “People were curious to see how we would compete. In football, I think we fit in. We definitely competed with everybody and finished in the upper half of the league.”
Kolosso said his other goals are to qualify for playoffs and “make as deep of a post-season run as possible.”
He wants his boys to try and take it to state in Madison.
The team is heavily upperclassmen with 13 returning starters, so it has experience, Kolosso said. However, some key positions will need to get up to speed. Fans will not watch senior Bryce Monti, who would have been a four-year starter but chose to hang up the jersey after a head injury last season.
Some of the key contributors to the Polar Bears’ 75-man team this year include quarterback Braden Stoeger, wide receiver Kyle Witthuhn, offensive lineman Jake Stein and linebacker Blake Kalwitz, Kolosso said.
“Our numbers overall are very good, so that helps a lot,” Kolosso said.
• Scott Bellile covers Clintonville, New London and Hortonville sports for The New London Press Star and Clintonville Tribune-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-982-2511.