Clintonville has new home
Truckers join Northwoods Conference
By Greg Seubert
After two seasons in the Packerland Conference, the Clintonville football team has a new home.
The Truckers have joined the Northwoods Conference, which also includes Coleman, Crandon, Crivitz, Menominee Indian, Northland Pines, Oconto Falls and Tomahawk.
“I know they’re competitive and it’s a really good league,” coach Nick Winkler said. “Coleman and Crivitz have some great players and good coaches. It’s going to be tough, so every week is going to be a challenge for us.”
Winkler is starting his third season with the Truckers and coached them to a 5-5 record. Clintonville also returned to the WIAA playoffs for the first time since a five-year run of consecutive appearances ended in 2009, but fell to Amherst in the opening round.
The Truckers have an experienced returning quarterback in junior Kade Rosenow after a collarbone injury ended his season last year.
“Kade’s back, he’s doing a great job and we’re really excited with what he’s been doing,” Winkler said. “We had a pretty good senior class last year and the guys that are going to be seniors and juniors have responded well. We have a really good freshman class and some really good sophomores as well.”
Those graduated seniors include first team all-conference players Cole Rosenow (offensive and defensive end) and Braiden Behnke (defensive back); and second teamers Brayden Branstrom.
Branstrom and Rosenow are now freshmen playing football at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan.
“We have a lot of the same type of guys,” Winkler said. “The Wegener brothers (Sam and Jordan) didn’t play the full year last year, but they came in and played a lot of games and got a lot of experience. We have some guys that have come in and moved around in different positions. I think they’ve done a really good job of addressing some of the areas where we didn’t have a lot of experience. They have a lot of motivation to excel at what they want to do.”
This year’s roster also includes a pair of second team all-conference players in seniors Kaleb Rath (offensive and defensive end) and Drake Lorge (linebacker).
“They’re really able to adapt well, to move around and try some different things,” Winkler said. “It’s not only given the opportunity for us to have some options, it’s more exciting. We’re seeing a lot of growth from the guys and their willingness to be adaptable. The guys that are out here are all in.”
Now that Winkler has two seasons under his belt, he said his players know what’s expected.
“They know the expectations, but the good part is they set the standards on themselves,” he said. “They hold themselves to a high standard. They’re excited about the opportunity and challenges ahead.”
The Truckers will open the season Friday, Aug. 19, by hosting Amherst and will head to Brillion Friday, Aug. 26, before opening Northwoods play Thursday, Sept. 1, at home against Crandon.
“The best part about our schedule is every week is a challenge,” Winkler said. “You can’t take a week off, not prepare or look past an opponent.”
A new conference means some long road trips to Crandon, Tomahawk and Eagle River. Winkler is used to that, as he came to Clintonville from Gallup, New Mexico.
“The good part of being in New Mexico for a couple years is we had a couple of five-, six-hour road trips,” he said. “You go from Gallup to Silver City, that’s a long way. It helps you find out where you’re at physically and mentally and if you’re able to overcome those things. We’re not the only one with those challenges, but how do you respond to it?”
Returning to the playoffs was a big deal for the Truckers, according to Winkler.
“I think the biggest thing is you have to have that belief that you can do it and they did,” he said. “They really did put in a lot of effort and time. This group is continuing with those standards that we set. I know these guys are excited about the challenge of getting back to the playoffs. That’s the expectation and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that we meet and exceed expectations.”
Clintonville Football Schedules
Friday, Aug. 19 – vs. Amherst, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 26 – at Brillion, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 1 – vs. Crandon, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 9 – at Crivitz, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16 – vs. Menominee Indian, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23 – at Northland Pines, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30 – vs. Oconto Falls, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7 – at Coleman, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 14 – vs. Tomahawk, 7 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 22 – at Amherst, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 29 – at Crandon, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 6 – vs. Crivitz, 6 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 12 – at Menominee Indian, 4 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 19 – vs. Northland Pines, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 26 – at Oconto Falls, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 3 – vs. Coleman, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 10 – at Tomahawk, 5 p.m.