A fresh start
Following an adversity-filled year, the Marshfield football team looks to rebound
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield football team found itself in an unusual situation last fall.
After 18-straight WIAA playoff appearances, the Tigers were on the outside looking in after struggling through a 2-7 season.
That is ancient history as this year’s Tigers are focused on improving in the rough-and-tumble Valley Football Association (VFA) South Division.
Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said a point of emphasis in this year’s training camp, leading up to the nonconference games at Wausau East onAug. 21 and at home against D.C. Everest on Aug. 28, is finding capable players on the defensive side of the ball.
Marshfield allowed 34 points and a conference-worst 453 yards per game as it finished 1-6 in the conference last year.
While the majority of the team’s top tacklers graduated, defensive end Aaron Peters, an honorable mention all-conference selection, returns along with safety Jeremy Brost and linebacker Craig Lyon. Brost and Lyon combined for 54 tackles in conference play.
Offensively, the Tigers will break in a new quarterback in senior Tyson Slade. Slade threw only 18 passes in VFA play in limited action as a backup last year. He will assume the starting role and will be joined in the backfield by senior running back Nick Hoheisel.
Hoheisel saw significant playing time late last season, which included an 84-yard performance against Hortonville.
Junior Braden Bohman will get reps at running back after a successful year on the JV squad.
Goettl hopes the offense will benefit from an experienced offensive line that returns four starters, including Brandon Bell and Andrew Gilkerson.
“We’re going to rely on those guys a lot,” Goettl said. “We started a sophomore and some juniors last year, only lost one senior, so we have experience. Our quarterback doesn’t have a lot of game experience, but he’s a really heady kid, a really smart kid, and a real competitor. He’s a senior and a pretty good player.”
The receiving group for Slade is headed by Zach McManus, who had 20 catches for 322 yards and two touchdowns at tight end.
Senior receivers Jon Hardinger (10 catches in 2014), Adam Fravert, and Isaac Huettl provide tall targets for Slade. All three are 6 foot 3 or taller.
“Receiving corps is going to be tall, lanky kids,” Goettl said. “We don’t have any jitterbugs. We’re looking for a fullback. We’re going to implement that a little bit more. Because of the line, we’re going to play to our strengths, I hope, and use those dudes as much as we can.”
The Tigers’ kicking game is in good hands, or feet, with McManus, who had six field goals and a 34.1 yard average punting. He was the Tigers’ lone first-team all-VFA South selection last year at kicker and was an honorable mention choice at punter.
Following the two nonconference games, Marshfield opens VFA South play at home on Sept. 4 against Neenah.