Team entering final year in VFA
By Greg Seubert
A new coach hopes to breathe new life into Hortonville High School’s football program.
Nick Reichert, an assistant with the Polar Bears the past two seasons, replaces Ben Stumpf as varsity coach.
Hortonville is in its final season with the Wisconsin Valley Association, a conference that also includes Appleton West, D.C. Everest, Marshfield, Stevens Point, Wausau East, Wausau West and Wisconsin Rapids.
The Polar Bears were 2-5 in the VFA last year and 2-7 overall. The team will return to the Fox Valley Association next season.
Reichert is the first to admit he and his staff won’t turn the program around overnight.
“It comes down to trust and believing in each other all the way through from top to bottom,” he said. “It starts with focusing on our job. You can’t go outside of that. It’s often difficult when you are struggling to start worrying about stuff that you can’t control. I think it all comes down to that trust factor from player to player and with the coaching staff. We put a lot of pressure on trying to win and that can often make it tough.”
Returning players for the Polar Bears this season include four first-team all-conference players: seniors Noah Draeger (offensive lineman), Aiden Roh (defensive lineman) and Smith (inside linebacker); and junior Seth Valeri (defensive back).
“There are almost too many names for me to go through,” Reichert said. “The talent is there.”
On the other hand, the Polar Bears have to replace several all-conference players from last season, including first-teamers August Maurer and Brett Heinz; second-teamer Luke O’Connor; and honorable mention players Matt Sigl and Tyson Kloehn.
Hortonville had plenty of success in other sports during the 2022-23 school year. The baseball team made it to the WIAA Division 1 championship game, the girls’ basketball team advanced to state; and Ben Smith returned from the state track and field meet with an individual championship.
“There’s a lot of success across the whole building,” Reichert said. “For us, it’s coming together. We were so close so many times last year and just couldn’t find a way to get the win. If we continue to fight and play for each other, the ceiling can be the limit.”
The Polar Bears opened the season Aug. 18 at home against West De Pere, a team that played for a Division 2 state championship last year.
“I’ve always wanted to be a head coach,” Reichert said. “It’s definitely been a goal of mine since my playing career ended. This is a great town. It’s not just the football team getting it done, it’s the entire community. It’s something special.”
Hortonville 2023 Football Schedules
Friday, Aug. 18 – vs. West De Pere, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Aug. 25 – at Pulaski, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Sept. 1 – vs. Stevens Point, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 8 – at Appleton West, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 15 – at Wisconsin Rapids, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 22 – vs. Wausau East, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 29 – at D.C. Everest, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 6 – vs. Wausau West, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 13 – at Marshfield, 7 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 21 – at West De Pere, 5 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 28 – vs. Pulaski, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 5 – at Stevens Point, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 11 – vs. Notre Dame Academy, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 18 – vs. Wisconsin Rapids, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 25 – at Wausau East, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 2 – vs. D.C. Everest, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 9 – at Wausau West, 4 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 16 – vs. Marshfield, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 17 – vs. West De Pere, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 24 – at Pulaski, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – vs. Stevens Point, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 7 – at Appleton West, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 14 – at Wisconsin Rapids, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 21 – vs. Wausau East, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 28 – at D.C. Everest, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 5 – vs. Wausau West, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 12 – at Marshfield. 5 p.m.