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Experience returning for Comets

Two Waupaca football players participate in a drill at a recent practice at Waupaca High School. The home opener at Comet Field is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, against Wrightstown. Greg Seubert Photo

Waupaca to compete in Bay Conference

By Greg Seubert

A 3-2 record in the Bay Conference was good enough for the Waupaca Comets to qualify for the WIAA football playoffs.

Although the season ended with a 49-0 opening-round loss to eventual Division 3 state runner-up West Salem, it marked the second straight season the Comets had made the playoffs under coach Bennett Hansen.

The Comets have to replace a number of all-conference players from last year’s team, including first-team offensive and defensive lineman Carsten Gile, the Bay Conference’s offensive lineman of the year; first-team punter Gavin Taggart; and second-team players Owen Smidt (wide receiver) and Devin Minton (offensive lineman in inside linebacker).

On the other hand, Hansen said the team has more experience heading into the 2023 season.

“We have a lot more upperclassmen,” he said. “We have team speed and we’re a little bigger and faster than we were last year. We’re seeing a few guys that maybe we didn’t expect show us the ability to play and that’s great. It would have been nice the last few years to have more of those guys work their way up from the bottom, but that’s part of raising the floor in the weight room. A few more guys are able to contribute because they’re strong enough and fast enough and they can surprise you.”

Returning players include Xzaver Pittmann, a second-team all-conference running back; and Henry Mouw, a second-team defensive back and kicker.

Ethan Harms will replace the graduated Parker Krcmar at quarterback.

“He did what we asked last year,” Hansen said. “He threw a couple of touchdowns, played in more than one game and did a good job of keeping us alive. Krcmar was such a dynamic runner, so we ran him a lot last year. This year, it’s going to be a little less than that and more responsibility in the passing game.”

The Comets traveled to Port Washington Aug. 10 for a scrimmage with Port Washington and West Allis Nathan Hale.

“We had a bunch of guys out, but we were able to see some guys fighting for spots compete for a longer time,” Hansen said. “Getting the reps and live action vs. a real opponent is a little different than practice and that’s what some of the guys saw. A lot of them made the correct adjustments.”

The Comets will open the season with four crossover games against North Eastern Conference teams Freedom, Wrightstown, Denmark and Little Chute.

The Bay Conference opener is set for Friday, Sept. 15, at Shawano.

“You have to rise to the challenge,” Hansen said. “I think the North Eastern has had a little bit of an advantage over the Bay Conference the last couple years and that’s been very clear record-wise. I’d rather play a tougher nonconference opponent. They’re a little faster, a little bigger. I’m not saying our conference is a letdown, but it prepares you better for higher-level competition.”

Xavier won the conference championship last year and should be in the mix for another title, according to Hansen.

Xavier, Winneconne, Shawano, those are the teams that have been around the top of the pack,” he said. “There is no down week. We’ve been lucky enough to beat some of the other teams in the conference, but they haven’t been easy wins.”

Waupaca’s offensive line waits for the defense during practice. Greg Seubert Photo

Waupaca 2023 Football Schedules


Friday, Aug. 18 – at Freedom, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Aug. 25 – vs. Wrightstown, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Sept. 1 – at Denmark, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Sept. 8 – vs. Little Chute, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Sept. 15 – at Shawano, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 22 – vs. Xavier, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 28 – at New London, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 6 – vs. Seymour, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 13 – at Winneconne, 7 p.m.


Monday, Aug. 28 – at Wrightstown, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 5 – at Denmark, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 11 – at Little Chute, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 2 – vs. New London, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 16 – vs. Winneconne, 5 p.m.


Thursday, Aug. 17 – vs. Freedom, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 24 – at Wrightstown, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – vs. Denmark, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 7 – at Little Chute, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 14 – vs. Shawano, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 21 – at Xavier, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 5 – at Seymour, 4 p.m.

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