Shawano holds high aspirations despite young roster

Hawks open season on road against West De Pere
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Leader file photo Brayden Dickelman (23) and the Shawano football team are coming off a 4-5 season in 2017.

Over the course the last couple of years, the Shawano football team has graduated many talented senior players.

After making the postseason for the third time in school history in 2016, Shawano ended the 2017 season with a 4-5 overall record and 3-5 mark in the Bay Conference. The Hawks suffered a 16-13 overtime road loss to New London to end the season, a game Shawano needed to win in order to become playoff-eligible.

As the Hawks enter the 2018 season, it has a handful of upperclassman to lean on for production, but several younger players will also need to step up if the team hopes to make the postseason for the fourth time in school history.

Senior defensive back Steven Hoffman, a second team all-conference selection last year, is the only returning Shawano player with defensive all-conference honors. Brayden Dickelman, a honorable mention pick at wide receiver last year as a sophomore, is the only returning offensive player with all-conference honors.

On the offensive side of the ball, coach Alan Tomow will turn to Dickelman at the running back position as he tries to get the ball into his playmaker’s hands as often as possible. Senior Crede Timm will serve as one of the team’s top targets in the passing game while senior Nathan Krizan, junior Keith Tourtillott and sophomore Trace Yeager anchor the offensive line that is looking to replace Dakota Maltbey, the conference’s offensive lineman of the year in 2017.

Krizan also will spend some time on the defensive line while Yeager, senior Nick Grignon and sophomore Dominick Blake roam the field from their linebacker positions. Hoffman will lead the Hawks’ secondary.

With a roster lacking many upperclassmen, the Hawks’ coaching staff needed to take a different approach in the first few days of practice.

“We are young this year and I expect us to show improvement each week as our kids get more experience,” Tomow said. “With the lack of experience at key positions, our coaches are stressing patience and teaching our schemes in their simplest form. We’ll experience some growing pains but I think we’ll be fun and exciting to watch.”

Even though it lacks experience, Shawano’s roster does not lack confidence and the team’s goals remain the same.

“Our team goal is always to make the playoffs, along with that though is competing in every game we play in,” Dickelman said. “We don’t want the games to be like they used to be where we lost by 35-plus and had running clock. My biggest team goal this year is making the playoffs and ultimately winning a playoff game for the first time in school history.”

“Since we’re are a very, very young team with a lot of talent, we just need to mold together and be comfortable and be confident that the guy next to you will do their job and play like a unit, the rest will fall into place,” Grignon said.

Shawano is not the only team that lost several key contributors from last year’s team, as many teams in the Bay Conference are also facing the same dilemma.

In order to reach the playoffs, Shawano knows it has to get the younger players up to speed quickly. The upperclassmen are handling that responsibility.

“We need to establish trust and respect right away,” Hoffman said. “We’re all gonna make mistakes so it’s important if we can help them grow as fast as they can and help them learn from mistakes.”

“Myself and other seniors alike have been teaching our younger athletes what we know to better prepare them for varsity football,” Krizan said. “I have sat down personally and taught my offensive linemen every play and concept in order to make the young line more confident and trusting that we can be a good football team. I also know for a fact that the same is being done for other position groups so that our younger guys can have a good attitude towards the new year of football.”

Shawano will open the regular season on Aug. 17 on the road against West De Pere. The Hawks first home game will come in week two against Waupaca. The school’s homecoming will be on Sept. 29, a 1 p.m. game against Xavier.

AT A GLANCE

All games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Friday, Aug. 17 — Shawano at West De Pere

Friday, Aug. 24 — Waupaca at Shawano

Friday, Aug. 31 — Shawano at Green Bay East

Friday, Sept. 7 — Menasha at Shawano

Friday, Sept. 14 — Shawano at Seymour

Friday, Sept 21 — Shawano at Denmark

Saturday, Sept. 29 — Xavier at Shawano, 1 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 5 — Shawano at Green Bay West

Friday, Oct. 12 — New London at Shawano