Bulldogs part of balanced Bay
New London ready for football season
By Greg Seubert
An 0-6 start to the season kept the New London football team from making any noise in the Bay Conference last year.
Third-year coach Kyle Collins said the Bulldogs are ready to turn the corner.
“It’s such a hard-working group, the hardest-working group we’ve had,” he said. “The team chemistry is awesome, so it’s been a really fun two weeks. I’m the English teacher here at the high school, so it’s huge that I’ve had most of my varsity guys in class. Seeing them in class, year-round and in the weight room has been a game-changer.”
The Bulldogs finished 2-7 last year, which included a 1-6 mark in the Bay Conference. Although New London lost its first six games, the Bulldogs won two of their last three.
This year’s Bay lineup also includes Waupaca, Seymour. Shawano, Winneconne and Xavier. Xavier won the conference championship last year with a 5-2 record, but finished in the standings only one game ahead of Waupaca, Winneconne and Fox Valley Lutheran, which is back in the North Eastern Conference this year.
“Balanced is a great word for our conference,” Collins said. “(Coach) Bennett (Hansen) is doing a great job in Waupaca, Shawano’s always well-coached and Dave (Hinkens) has been at Xavier forever. The coaching in this conference is second to none, especially with those three. They always have their teams ready.
“What I love about the Bay Conference is every game’s going to be competitive,” he said. “There are no weeks where you can say, ‘Hey, I’m going to get an easy win here’ or, ‘Hey, it’s going to be a tough one.’ We’re going to be able to compete week in and week out.”
The Bulldogs have a few graduated players to replace, including Owen Schlueter, the Bay’s linebacker of the year last year, Jack Grable and Sawyer Kohl. All three made the all-conference first team as an outside linebacker, inside linebacker and offensive lineman, respectively.
“Fortunately, we have a great group of kids ready to step in and that’s been huge from day one,” Collins said. “Owen Schlueter was a stud for us as a junior, so everyone knew that was his spot as a senior. It’s the same with Jack Grable and some of the other guys we had last year. This year, we told the kids that we have 10 open spots on defense. That’s really brought the practice energy up.”
Not much experience
If the Bulldogs have a glaring weakness this season, it’s a lineup with not a lot of experience.
“We’re starting three sophomores on the O-line, a junior at quarterback and some juniors on the edge,” Collins said. “That’s going to be tough in terms of close games, but those three sophomores that are starting on the offensive line are all great friends and have worked together all winter to get ready for the season. The other big thing is we’re a very deep team. We’re able to have some guys go one way who might have the ability, but we don’t need them to start on both sides of the ball.”
New London’s first four games are against North Eastern Conference teams, including the season opener Friday, Aug. 19, against Freedom, while the Bay opener is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 16, at Winneconne.
“There’s no better sport in the world than Friday night football,” Collins said. “We can’t wait to get under the lights. We’ll be ready.”
New London Football Schedules
Friday, Aug. 19 – vs. Freedom, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 26 – at Wrightstown, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 2 – vs. Denmark, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 9 – at Little Chute, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16 – at Winneconne, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23 – vs. Seymour, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30 – at Waupaca, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7 – vs. Shawano, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 14 – at Xavier, 7 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 22 – at Freedom, 5 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 29 – vs. Wrightstown, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 6 – at Denmark, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 12 – vs. Little Chute, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 19 – vs. Winneconne, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 18 – at Freedom, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 25 – vs. Wrightstown, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 1 – at Denmark, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 8 – vs. Little Chute, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 15 – vs. Winneconne, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 22 – at Seymour, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 29 – vs. Waupaca, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 6 – at Shawano, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 13 – vs. Xavier, 5 p.m.