In "Championship Catch-up" we will take a look at all eight state champions from the 2019 season, with a look back at last year and forward to next season. All eight teams will be featured over the next week.
2019 Season Recap: After a Division 3 state championship in 2018, many expected Catholic Memorial to be a favorite once again. What we didn't realize until a bit later on, was the very real chance the Crusaders would drop from Division 4 to Division 3. A storyline that gained steam over the course of the regular season and became one of the most-talked about aspects of the final Friday night of the year, Catholic Memorial did move down to D4, much to the chagrin of many smaller schools. After going 7-2 during the regular season in the challenging Classic Eight Conference, the Crusaders ran roughshod over the D4 playoffs, with wins over Obama SCTE, Kewaskum, Lake Mills, and River Valley. That set up a showdown with Kiel in the title game, which ended in a 35-0 running clock win for Catholic Memorial.
Following is a Q&A session with WSN General Manager Travis Wilson and Lake Country Lutheran coach Greg Brazgel.
WSN: What were your expectations or goals heading into the 2019 season?
Young: We knew we had a great group of seniors coming back, led by four Division 1 athlete: Luke fox, Cole Dakovich, Ben Kreul, Joe Sikma.
WSN: Was there a turning point in your season, or moment where you felt your team had a chance to be special?
Young: We got off to a great start. We won our first three, then we played Kettle Moraine, and they had a really good game. Joe Sikma got hurt and we ended up losing 13-11. The following week we went out and Muskego pounded us. I felt that our seniors at that moment really took this team over with their leadership.
WSN: What player(s) showed significant improvement over the course of the year that helped make the difference for you?
Young: Obi Allen, our running back and senior Tom Schmitzer. We started going back to fundamentals. A big deal for us was moving Cole Dakovich from defensive end to nickel linebacker. We moved Charlie Jarvis to strong safety and that really solidified the backend of our defense.
WSN: Do you do an end of season meeting with each individual or the team where you outline where you'd like to see them improve?
Young: Nick Vitale, our offensive coordinator, does individual meetings. Defensively, I bring in the players that are returning and try to have several group meetings, be it by position or otherwise.
WSN: Have your athletes been involved in off-season workouts? If so, how has participation been so far?
Young: Yes. Because of the size of our school, our Athletic Director Matt Bergan has done a tremendous job. We’re marrying football and track together. The majority of our guys are three-sport athletes. Weightlifting is part of the curriculum, so we have the kids three days a week in class. However, with coronavirus that has now stopped and it is difficult for the guys to get their workouts in.
WSN: What are your plans for using your contact days in the summer?
Young: We always have our contact days in middle of July. We do a lot of teaching, and the biggest thing we’re looking for is the guys you have to bring along for more opportunities.
WSN: How many letterwinners do you have coming back for next year?
Young: 21 letterwinners; 14 starters back. Alex Oechsner and Jim Schwaab are expected to be two-way players again.
WSN: Who do you anticipate stepping into leadership roles during the off-season and into the 2020 campaign?
Young: We have a very good junior class, and some of the guys like Rory Fox, Charlie Jarvis, Morgan McNight, Adam Boehm, Josiah Nathanial, Langston Latham will be stepping into leadership roles. We’ve got a small senior class so we’re going to rely a lot on younger players.
WSN: What do you foresee as being the strengths of your team next season? What would be areas of concern at this time?
Young: Every season you have different roles you have to determine. We’ve got enough guys to be a good running team. The passing game will progress as the season goes. We’re going to be looking for underclassmen to step up in those spots. Defensively we have to rebuild in a lot of areas.
WSN: Who will be some of the other top teams in your conference?
Young: Going into the Parkland is a change. Pewaukee has a strong football program. Matt Kern at New Berlin Eisenhower does a great job. New Berlin West will be solid. Our two non-conference games are Brookfield Central and Antioch (IL), which will be challenges.
Travis Wilson serves as the WisSports.net General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board as the Website and Communications Director and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball) and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.
For the latest and most up to date football news and recruiting information, follow Travis on Twitter @travisWSN. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Travis at travis(at)wissports.net.