New London to kick off season early
By Greg Seubert
It’s been nine months since Amherst High School’s football team returned home with its second straight state championship.
Will the Falcons make their fourth straight trip to the finals at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison this November and win a third straight WIAA Division 5 title? Or will another area team add a gold or silver ball to their trophy case?
Players, coaches and fans will have to wait and see, but the wait is nearly over.
Wisconsin’s high school football season kicks off this week with more than 200 games on the schedule. Most will be played Friday, Aug. 18, but one local team – New London – will open its season Thursday, Aug. 17.
Here’s a rundown of games this season that fans may want to check out:
New London at Oconto Falls, 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17. New London returns a three-year starting quarterback in Jack Noffke and a first-team all-conference receiver in Parker Fermanich and plans to take advantage of its passing game. Oconto Falls is coached by Waupaca High School graduate Barry Derickson.
Waupaca at Menasha, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18. Menasha won a Bay Conference championship last year, but fell to Menomonee Falls in the first round of the WIAA playoffs. The Bluejays will dedicate the school’s new artificial turf field at Calder Stadium at the game.
Shawano at Waupaca, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25. One week after playing on Menasha’s new field, Waupaca High School will dedicate its own turf field – Comet Field – in a matchup of Bay Conference teams.
Amherst at St. Mary’s Springs, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25. This is the third straight year Amherst and Springs – two of Wisconsin’s top small-school football programs – have met in the second week of the season for a nonconference game. Amherst won in 2015 at Fruth Field in Fond du Lac, while the Ledgers returned the favor last year. The game returns to Fond du Lac this season.
Pacelli at Manawa, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1. After one year in the Central Wisconsin 10 Conference, Manawa returns to the CWC-Large, formerly the CWC-8. This is the Wolves’ home opener after road games at Suring and Auburndale.
Bonduel at Iola-Scandinavia, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8. The Thunderbirds will host the Bears at Thunderbird Field in Scandinavia. I-S handed Bonduel a 27-14 defeat last year.
Pacelli at Weyauwega-Fremont, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15. W-F blanked the Cardinals 34-0 last year in Stevens Point. The game will be the first home game for the Indians after three straight road trips.
Freedom at Waupaca, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15. The Comets and Irish played several memorable Eastern Valley Conference games in the past, but haven’t met since Freedom joined the North Eastern Conference and Waupaca the Bay for football.
Oshkosh West at Hortonville, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22. Hortonville expects to contend for a Valley Football Association-South championship this year.
Weyauwega-Fremont at Manawa, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29. Two local teams meet for a CWC-Large game.
Waupaca at West De Pere, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6. Another game on turf for the Comets. Although the Phantoms ended Waupaca’s season with a 35-0 loss in the first round of the WIAA playoffs last year, the regular-season matchup was closer at 20-7.
Iola-Scandinavia at Weyauwega-Fremont, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13. W-F wants to gain respect in the CWC-Large with wins over teams like Iola-Scandinavia. The T-Birds will likely have a playoff spot wrapped up by the final week of the regular season, but the Indians could be in the hunt for a trip to the postseason for the first time since 2007.