Marshfield goes camping prior to the start of practice, Spencer/Columbus’ experienced roster primed for 2015
By Paul Lecker
The Marshfield High School football team got an early jump on its 2015 season with a unique team-building experience.
The Tigers players and coaching staff enjoyed a night under the stars at the Marshfield School Forest on Monday, the night before the season kicked off with the first day of practice across the state.
Marshfield, coming off a disappointing 2-7 season and missing the WIAA playoffs for the first time since 1995, is looking to make a quick turnaround and to put last season far in the rearview mirror.
“Last year we didn’t have the greatest of seasons, and as a staff, there were some things that weren’t going the right way,” Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said. “We kind of had to find a way to bring some things back together as far as our kids starting to care about each other. It was a great, cohesive, team-building night.”
The team was bussed back to Marshfield High School on Tuesday morning, and its first practice of the season began shortly thereafter with speed testing in the fieldhouse and position drills out on the practice field behind the school.
“The seniors know it’s their last year, and they’re trying to do everything they can,” Goettl said. “We had excellent attendance in our weight room (during the summer), and they went to a team camp in La Crosse this year. We’re not trying to change how we did things but maybe get the ship back on track.”
Rockets look to build off of last year
While Marshfield had a rough 2014 campaign, the Spencer/Columbus (S/C) Rockets are coming off of one of their best as they finished 8-4 and reached Level 3 in the Division 4 playoffs.
The Rockets, returning roughly two-thirds of their starters, hope their experience gives them a jump on the competition as camp opens.
“The experienced guys that are back are fired up and ready to go,” S/C coach Jason Gorst said as Tuesday’s morning session wrapped up at the Spencer practice field. “It’s nice to be able to pick up a little further in our playbook than it would be in a normal year, just given that we have so many guys coming back.”
The S/C coaching staff used its five “contact” days with players to install the base parts of its offensive and defensive game plans during a week in July. The two hours each day were spent putting in the basics so the team would be even more prepared to get down to business once camp opened this week.
“We’ve been in this offensive and defensive system for a couple of years, and especially with the number of upperclassmen, they’re able to figure out things pretty quick,” Gorst said.
“There aren’t any glaring weaknesses, which may be our strength. Traditionally, we’ve been a strong running team, and last year the defense, I felt, was the strength of our team, and I think it could be again this season. We’re definitely bringing back a lot of guys on both sides of the ball,” added Gorst.
Spencer/Columbus and Marshfield will work next week heading into the teams’ scrimmages: S/C at Owen-Withee and Marshfield at Black River Falls. Then things get real. The first games of the season are set for just 17 days after the first practice. The Rockets host Fall Creek, and Marshfield will play at Wausau East on Aug. 21.
“We need to make sure our defense is really tight in what they are doing and find some kids that are going to stop the football,” Goettl said about the Tigers, who allowed 21 points or more in eight of their nine games a year ago. “Last year we had a bit of a difficult time doing that. You can have any offense you want to, but if you can’t stop people, it’s going to be a long season, and we found that out last year. We’re going to work on shoring up our defense, and that’s going to be a major goal for the first two weeks.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.