T-Birds hope to continue winning ways
Iola-Scandinavia to host Shiocton in opener
By Greg Seubert
Football programs deal with it every year.
A group of talented players graduate, leaving coaches with decisions to make regarding who will fill their shoes.
That’s the case for the Iola-Scandinavia Thunderbirds this season, as longtime coach Scott Erickson and his staff have to replace four first team all-conference players in Brock Moen (offensive and defensive lineman), Parker Prahl (quarterback, defensive back), Will Tappa (tight end/fullback and linebacker) and Isaiah Hoyord (running back).
Those four players helped lead the T-Birds to a second-place finish in the Central Wisconsin Conference-Small last year behind Pacelli. The T-Birds will open the season at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, by hosting Shiocton at Thunderbird Field in Scandinavia.
Erickson is used to coming into a season with question marks.
“We’ve done it before,” he said. “In 2017 and 2018, we had back-to-back state teams and had to replace guys. That’s just the nature of the game in high school. You just keep moving on and believing in the guys you have for next year. We’re trying to find out who can take care of business at their position. There will be a lot of rotations and things that happen to see the ability level.
“All of our returners, regardless of whether they were starters, are important players here,” he said. “We’re counting on everyone and we’re going to play a lot of people this year with 30 guys and that’s the way it’s been the last few years. We took the field at Camp Randall (Stadium) in 2018 and I think we had 32, 33 kids. We’re hoping that guys keep getting better and the opportunities will come. You just have to make the most of it. Some of our sophomores are going to get a lot of playing time. We just want them to get some confidence in their abilities and believe they can make it happen.”
The CWC-Small is down to five teams this year now that Wild Rose has switched to eight-man football and Pittsville has returned to the Marawood Conference.
Besides Iola-Scandinavia, the conference includes Assumption, Loyal, Pacelli and Rosholt,
“We only have four conference games, but then we have the crossover games (with CWC-Large opponents) that count for playoffs,” Erickson said. “Assumption’s going to be tough. They have a nice running back coming back, They’re coached well and they play hard. Rosholt’s going to be decent again this year. Pacelli lost some kids, but they have some good kids coming in. We played Loyal last year and they had some ability. It’s going to be four touch conference games and our nonconference games are going to be tough as well. They challenge is ahead of us, for sure.”
The T-Birds have been to the WIAA playoffs in eight of the last 10 years. That run includes a Division 6 state championship in 2018 and a trip to state finals in 2017.
Being part of a successful program is appealing to players, according to Erickson.
“Everyone regardless of ability is part of our football family,” he said. “We just want everyone to enjoy this time. I tell them every year that it doesn’t last forever. You’re sitting there as a freshman thinking that you have four years, but it’s over in a blink of an eye. I just want them to appreciate the opportunity to play this game and be a part of this program.”
Iola-Scandinavia Football Schedules
Friday, Aug. 19 – vs. Shiocton, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 26 – at Wittenberg-Birnamwood, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 2 – vs. Colby, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 9 – at Abbotsford, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16 – at Assumption, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 23 – vs. Loyal, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30 – at Rosholt, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7 – vs. Pacelli, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 14 – vs. Kingdom Prep Lutheran, 5 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 22 – at Shiocton, 5 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 29 – at Weyauwega-Fremont, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 12 – vs. Pittsville, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 19 – vs. Rosholt, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 26 – at Loyal, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 3 – vs. Rosholt, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 10 – vs. Lourdes Academy at Titan Stadium, Oshkosh, 6:30 p.m.