Fresh start, new coach at W-F
Indians prepare for 2015 season at football camp
By Greg Seubert
It’s been eight years since Weyauwega-Fremont has qualified for the WIAA state football playoffs.
Since then, the Indians are 17-45, including a 3-6 season last year.
Longtime assistant coach Pat Fee is the team’s new coach and replaces Tom Chase, who stepped down earlier this year to take an assistant coaching position at Ripon College in Ripon.
“The most important part is really building a relationship with the kids,” said Fee, who joined Chase’s staff as an assistant coach in 2002.
“Just like in the classroom, it’s the same thing on the field,” he said. “I really believe it begins with expectations and a hard work ethic. I like kids that are looking for work.”
Although practice doesn’t officially begin until Tuesday, Aug. 4, Fee and his coaching staff spent July 13-15 with nearly 40 players at a football camp at Weyauwega-Fremont High School.
Fee was an assistant coach on the 2005 W-F team that made it to the state semifinals.
“We’ve been to the top of the mountain and we’ve been close to the bottom of the mountain,” he said. “This is my 13th year here and I’ve seen a big transition through the years.”
The Indians compete in the Central Wisconsin 8 Conference, which has had a team play for a state championship in each of the last four years. Amherst won a Division 5 championship in 2012 and placed second last year, while Shiocton won the Division 6 title in 2013 and took second in 2011.
“Our conference is probably one of the better smaller-school conferences in the state at this point,” Fee said.
The conference also includes Iola-Scandinavia, Manawa, Bonduel, Wittenberg-Birnamwood and Stevens Point Pacelli.
The Indians will open the season Friday, Aug. 21, at home against Adams-Friendship, the first of two nonconference games. W-F will then travel to Brillion before opening CWC-8 play Friday, Sept. 4, at Pacelli.
“Nonconference (games) will play a role for our team,” Fee said. “We need to learn to work within these new schemes in our system. Our schedule is really nice because the big hitters are more at the end of our schedule.”
The camp gave Fee and his coaching staff a chance to lay out their expectations.
“It’s great in a transition year,” he said. “We’re able to give kids our philosophies and let them know our expectations and kind of set that rhythm of practice. The vast majority of our kids are here at camp. There will be some who come to meetings and want to check it out. We’ll see if they show up on Day One.”
Fans will notice some changes, according to Fee.
“We’re going to be more of a downhill running-style offense with play action,” he said. “I’ve been the defensive coordinator for many years and we’re changing that up. We’re going to be running more of a 4-3 look again after being a three-front for the last few years. We want to be aggressive and not sit back and wait for the offense.”
Fee’s staff this season includes his dad, Pat Sr., who coached at Birchwood High School for 14 years; former W-F cross country and track coach Nick Winn; former W-F football player Kyle Bosquez; and assistant wrestling coach Rich Tomaszewski.
“We have to get back to where we were,” Fee said. “The chemistry will be important, but confidence is the biggest thing. That’s what needed in our conference to win at a high level now. If we want to be in the high echelon, we have to do some things and a lot of that starts with getting that confidence back.”
Chase will coach quarterbacks and fullbacks at Ripon, where his son, Cody, plays.
“It was something I have always wanted to do and the time was right,” he said. “I will miss our kids, as they were always great and our numbers almost always went up during the season as more kids would come out. I think I can say that most of our athletes walked away from playing football and enjoyed it. I will miss it.”
“There comes a different kind of excitement with a change of guard,” Fee said. “You have to grab that because it’ll fade quickly.
“Our motto this year is W-F Football Forward,” he added. “We need to take steps forward. To do that, we have to be in games. Getting a couple of W’s won’t hurt, it never does. It’s there, we just need to tap into it. That’s where we’re at right now.”