DeForest Norskies - Badger North
Coach: Mike Minick (18th Season), 125-57; 19-16 in 16 playoff appearances
2016 Result: 4-6 (3-3), 4th in the Badger North (Lost 42-7 to Waunakee in Level 1 of the D2 Playoffs)
Three-Year Record: 19-13 (2-3 Playoffs)
2016 All-Conference Honors: 1 First-Team, 4 Second-Team, 7 Honorable Mention (12 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 15 First-Team, 12 Second-Team, 24 Honorable Mention (51 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (6): WR/TE Bryce Duffy (Second Team-TE) (Honorable Mention-TE in 2015) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - TE), Sr.; WR Jarrett Klein (Second Team-WR) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - WR), Sr.; OL Blake Flynn (Second Team-OL) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - OL); WR/DB Logan Hackl (Second Team-WR), Jr.; LB Bryson Girten (Honorable Mention-LB) (Second Team-LB in 2015), Sr.; DB Colton Coates (Honorable Mention-DB), Sr.
Other Players To Watch: QB/DB Sam Vomhof, Sr.; DL Nicky Houswerth, Sr.; LB Griffyn Holmes, Sr.
BIG Games: at Monroe August 25, at Reedsburg September 1, vs Waunakee September 8, at Mount Horeb October 6
DeForest football has a strong history, boasting three coaches with more than 100 career victories at the school.
Current DeForest Head Coach Mike Minick, now in his 18th season, joined that group years ago, but shakes off any notion that the past history of the program will do any good this season.
The Norskies lost six games in 2016, all to playoff teams, but only by an average of fewer than nine points per game in the first four contests
"Every year," said Minick, "you need a group that is willing to work hard to succeed."
Last year's seniors contributed to three straight playoff trips, and Minick credits their ability to work together. "That was a very hard-working group," said Coach Minick. "They were very team-oriented."
It also goes beyond what happens on the field, said Coach Minick. "Our goals are dedication and commitment to the team, each other as teammates, and to our community."
Each player, says Minick, is required to participate in some form of community service, citing the Relay 4 Life and food drives that the school puts together.
On the field, DeForest will be returning some talented seniors for a run at the Badger North title this season. Three players on offense are mentioned as players to watch in the class of 2018, including tight end/wide receiver Bryce Duffy, wide receiver Jarrett Klein, and offensive lineman Blake Flynn. All three players were named to the Badger North second-team all-conference list last year.
Senior Sam Vomhof will be back to operate the offense from the quarterback position, and junior wide receiver Logan Hackl (second-team all-conference) is back to join a group of experienced skill position returnees for the Norskies.
Defensively, senior Nicky Houswerth will help anchor the front lines. Behind him will be a pair of senior linebackers, Bryson Girten (honorable mention at the position last year in the Badger North, and second-team the year prior) and Griffyn Holmes. The defensive backfield will feature senior cornerback Colton Coates, who was honorable mention all-conference a year ago, and junior safety Logan Hackl.
On the schedule, DeForest will play two Badger Conference crossover games, first at home against Oregon to open the season and then at Badger South 2016 champion Monroe in Week 2.
Another tough road game looms the following week when the Norskies open up Badger North play against Reedsburg, who DeForest lost to 28-14 in 2016.
Waunakee comes to town in Week 4, having defeated DeForest 17-13 and 42-7 in Week 8 and the first round of the playoffs respectively last season, both times at Waunakee.
A pair of road games against Sauk Prairie and Baraboo, who the Norskies only defeated by one point last year, follow the Waunakee game. In Week 7, DeForest will play Badger North newcomer Beaver Dam at home.
The Norskies wrap up the season at Mount Horeb/Barneveld and at home against Portage. All told in 2016, DeForest went 0-6 against playoff teams, something that Coach Minick hopes to reverse this year since the Norskies were only really out of two of those games, during their difficult close to the season at Waunakee, at Monona Grove, and at Waunakee (the latter two ended up being big losses). In the first four losses of the season, the Norskies lost by fewer than nine points on average in those contests.
"The Badger North has a good tradition and every team is good," said Minick. "We're hoping to contend this year and be in every game."
DeForest hopes to make it 12 straight seasons in the playoffs, but with the addition of Beaver Dam, will need to win four conference games in order to make it back. Waunakee, DeForest, Mount Horeb/Barneveld, and Reedsburg all figure to be in the conference title mix, with the remaining teams in the conference capable of making a run to a playoff spot as well.
A feature on DeForest football and their community service efforts will air on The Prep Report on August 16 on The Big 1070.
--Jimmie Kaska @jimmekaska