Noltner takes over for Koronkiewicz
By Greg Seubert
It’s been a long time since the Waupaca football team watched the WIAA playoffs from the outside.
The Comets have qualified for the playoffs each season since 1991, the second-longest current streak in Wisconsin.
Those 25 straight appearances came under former coach John Koronkiewicz, who retired following the 2015 season. Tom Noltner, was an assistant coach in each of those 25 seasons and is now the team’s coach.
“(Other programs) are happy to have one and we have that streak going,” he said. “We really haven’t talked about that yet, but the guys know that. They don’t want to be the class – the senior class – to not make the playoffs. I think pressure is good. It makes you focus more. I think it makes you work harder and that’s the way life is sometimes. There’s a lot of pressure in anything you do. You’ve got to be handle that to succeed in your job, your school or a game.
“They want to succeed,” he said. “This is their last go-around.”
The Comets will open the season at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at Green Bay West as Waupaca starts its second season in the Bay Conference.
So far, Noltner likes what he sees.
“They’ve bought into everything we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’ve had a great effort, a great pace. We’re extremely happy with how things are going. The guys are being great teammates, stepping up and helping everybody learn the new system, especially on offense. We can’t ask for anything more. Their effort has been outstanding.”
Waupaca finished fifth in the Bay last year with a 4-4 mark and ended the season at 4-6 following a first-round loss to Rice Lake in the playoffs.
The Comets finished in the standings behind Xavier, Menasha, Seymour and West De Pere, four teams that beat Waupaca last year.
“Our goal is to finish in the top half and make the playoffs,” Noltner said. “We’ll see where things kind of shake out in the end.”
The Comets have to replace all-conference second-teamers Walker Smith, Christian Overman, Johnny Popham, Gavin Montgomery and Cannon Hermanson and honorable mention players Simon McClanahan and Joe Gill, but returning players include first-team senior defensive end Dylan Minton and second-team seniors Hayden Neidert, Blake Orr and Brandon Anderson at punter, defensive lineman and defensive back, respectively.
Neidert will replace Smith at quarterback.
“All the seniors are leaders because it’s their last year, so we’re looking at all of them to help,” Noltner said. “Hayden is doing a great job and Blake and Dylan, our defensive ends, are our leaders on defense. They were starters.”
Fans can also expect to see plenty of junior Brenden Canterbury.
“Brenden is on defense, but he’s also working some tailback,” he said. “He’s a very gifted athlete and we’re going to try and get him into as many situations as we can.”
Noltner wants to put his own stamp on the program, but admitted their will still be traces of the team’s former coach.
“We have a little bit of everything,” he said. “We have some different formations. It is new, but it is some of the old. We’re really working on short passes and ball control.”
Like other area teams, the Comets dealt with heat and humidity during the first week of practice.
“I told them, ‘If you’re not working, sit at home, go in the basement and sit in the air conditioning, drink lots of fluids, go sit in a pool somewhere out of the sun,’” Noltner said. “We gave them lots of breaks with lots of water.”
The team showed up the first day of practice Aug. 2 ready to go and worked out twice on the practice fields at Waupaca High School.
“They were excited and ready to go,” Noltner said. “Everybody was here for both practices. They haven’t had two-a-days in maybe 20-some years, so it was different.”
Waupaca 2016 Football Schedule
Friday, Aug. 19 – at Green Bay East, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 26 – at Green Bay West, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 2 – vs. New London, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 9 – at Xavier, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16 – vs. Wrightstown, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23 – vs. West De Pere, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1 – at Shawano, 1 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7 – vs. Seymour, 7 p.m. (Homecoming)
Friday, Oct. 14 – vs. Menasha, 7 p.m.
JV1 (Junior Varsity)
Monday, Aug. 22 – vs. Green Bay East, 5 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 29 – vs. Green Bay West, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 6 – at New London, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 12 – vs. Xavier, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 19 – at Wrightstown, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 26 – at West De Pere, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 3 – vs. Shawano, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 10 – at Seymour, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 25 – vs. Green Bay West, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 1 – at New London, 4 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 8 – vs. Xavier, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 15 – at Wrightstown, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 22 – at West De Pere, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 29 – vs. Shawano, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 6 – at Seymour, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 13 – at Menasha, 5 p.m.