Bonduel ready for tough conference schedule

Bears open season on road against Coleman
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Leader Photo by Morgan Rode Bonduel is coming off an 8-2 season and second place finish in the CWC-Large.

The Bonduel football team has been a model of consistency in recent years.

The Bears have won at least seven games in each of the past five seasons, finishing in the top four of a tough Central Wisconsin Conference each year.

In 2017, Bonduel finished with an 8-2 record overall, with a 6-1 mark in the CWC-Large Division.

Amherst, three-time Division 5 state champions, won the division with a 7-0 record, topping Bonduel 47-20 in week five. The Bears claimed a 47-20 win in week four over Iola-Scandinavia, which eventually played in the Division 6 state title game.

While the conference is headlined by Amherst and Iola-Scandinavia, the Bears know any team in the conference can prove to be a tough test on any given week.

“You can never think that any game is going to be an easy win,” senior Colin Hanus said. “This conference is very physical and gives us a challenge with some big competition. Different players from different teams are even going on to good colleges to play football. Because of this you always know that there will be trained and ready players on the other teams and you have to train to be better then those who are lined up against you.”

“The CWC never fails to have very successful teams and players,” sophomore Isaac Banker said. “Every year, there are a few teams from our conference that make a deep playoff run. With this high level of competition, we need to raise our level of play as well. No matter what, we just have to stick together and work hard and everything will work out fine.”

While Bonduel graduated a handful of players this spring, Bonduel also returns plenty of key contributors from last year’s squad, which gives coach James Westrich plenty of optimism.

“We are very excited for this season to get started,” he said. “We have a pretty even split between returning starters and new players on both sides of the ball. The biggest challenge right now is getting the new players up to speed with the returning guys and staying healthy.”

Four seniors that gathered all-conference honors last year lead the Bears. Parker Bohm, a second team all-conference selection at quarterback, and Isaac Garside, a first team pick as a wide receiver and second teamer as a linebacker, each enjoyed strong junior seasons on the gridiron while linebacker Jacob Giese and Hanus, a tight end, were each honorable mention selections.

Isaac Boldt, a junior this year, was an honorable mention selection as a defensive back last season.

Banker, a wide receiver, joins Garside and Hanus as the top targets for quarterback Parker Bohm in the passing game. Boldt and Riddik Bohm form a strong 1-2 punch out of the backfield. Spencer Inman and Jacob Giese will fortify the team’s offensive line.

On the defensive side of the ball, Inman and Hanus will anchor the line while Garside, Giese, Riddik Bohm and Boldt create a talented quartet of linebackers. Parker Bohm and Banker will roam the secondary.

While Bonduel has enjoyed plenty of success in the regular season, the team has not fared quite as well in the postseason.

The Bears have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 2015. Last year fifth-seeded Stratford came to Bonduel, the No. 4 seed, and came away with a surprising 42-19 victory. Stratford went on to blowout top-seeded Stanley-Boyd in the second round before falling to eventual champion Amherst.

In order to take the next step as a program and strive for the ultimate goal of winning a state title, Bonduel players know they need to work as a team.

“We need to compete together as a family and believe in one another to win at a higher level,” Garside said. “I believe that if we are physical and aggressive, we can compete with any team that lines up across from us. Many players have been in the weight room becoming bigger, faster, and stronger to compete with higher level teams and I believe we can compete with anyone as long as we play as one and work together.”

“Focus and teamwork are a big part of what we are pushing for this year,” Parker Bohm said. “If we can put that together, I am confident that we will be successful this season. Day by day we have to keep making strides to be the best team that we can be and reach our goals of winning conference and advancing in the playoffs.”

Bonduel opens the season on the road against Coleman on Friday, Aug. 17 before playing three of the next four games at home. The Bears will play Iola-Scandinavia and Amherst on back-to-back weeks for a second straight season, hosting Iola-Scandinavia on Sept. 14 before traveling to Amherst on Sept. 21.

AT A GLANCE

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

Friday, Aug. 17 — Bonduel at Coleman

Friday, Aug. 24 — Peshtigo at Bonduel

Thursday, Aug. 30 — Manawa at Bonduel

Friday, Sept. 7 — Bonduel at Weyauwega-Fremont

Friday, Sept. 14 — Iola-Scandinavia at Bonduel

Friday, Sept 21 — Bonduel at Amherst

Friday, Sept. 28 — Shiocton at Bonduel

Friday, Oct. 5 — Wittenberg-Birnamwood at Bonduel

Friday, Oct. 12 — Bonduel at Pacelli