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T-Birds to rely on younger players

Ryan Kampert tucks the ball under his arm and brings it up the field during a recent Iola-Scandinavia football practice. Kampert is back for another season with the Thunderbirds. Holly Neumann Photo

Roster includes only two seniors

By Greg Seubert

Senior leadership often leads to success for a high school football team.

That won’t be the case this season at Iola-Scandinavia, as the Thunderbirds’ 30-player roster includes only two seniors.

Low numbers are nothing new for longtime coach Scott Erickson.

“We have 30 guys overall,” he said. “When you only have two seniors, younger guys have to move up and play. Fortunately for us, we have some pretty good athletes coming up. It’s a pretty good cohesive group. They get along well and care about each other. That’s a big thing.”

The T-Birds have a handful of all-conference players from last season to replace, including first-teamers Jackson Fredy and Braden Louison; and second-teamers Fredy, Parker Gullixon and Mason Kraemer.

The T-Birds will compete with Assumption, Loyal, Pacelli and Rosholt in the Central Wisconsin Conference-Small and opened the season Aug. 18 in Shiocton.

“We’ll end up playing four conference games and four crossover games that matter for the playoffs,” Erickson said. “Every one is meaningful. You have to play the teams you’re playing to the best of your ability and hopefully, we’ll have a chance after week nine to keep moving on.”

The T-Birds’ 2-7 record last year included a 2-2 mark in the CWC-Small.

“They’re pretty dedicated,” Erickson said. “I give the guys credit for getting up and playing at 7 in the morning and showing back up at 4. We try to beat the heat as best we can this time of year.”

After opening the season with four nonconference games, Iola-Scandinavia will open CWC-Small play Friday, Sept. 15, against Assumption.

“It’s all about fundamentals,” Erickson said. “We work on fundamentals now and in the last week of the year, too. It’s what you have to do. We’re just trying to get a little better every week. Our theme is 1-0 each week. Don’t look behind, don’t look ahead, just try to take care of what’s at hand right now.”

The T-Birds’ home opener at Thunderbird Field in Scandinavia is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 25, against Wittenberg-Birnamwood.

“It’s kind of a family event,” Erickson said. “You get aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, neighbors, all kinds of relatives that come. Some of the people that come are former players, so it’s a little family reunion on Fridays.”

Quarterback Jensen Rice hands the ball off to Billy Myers. Holly Neumann Photo

Iola-Scandinavia 2023 Football Schedules

Friday, Aug. 18 – at Shiocton, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Aug. 25 – vs. Wittenberg-Birnamwood, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Sept. 1 – at Colby, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Sept. 8 – vs. Abbotsford, 7 p.m. (NC)
Friday, Sept. 15 – vs. Assumption, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 22 – at Loyal, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 29 – vs. Rosholt, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 6 – at Pacelli, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 13 – vs. Kingdom Prep Lutheran at Mequon, 7 p.m. (NC)
Junior Varsity
Monday, Aug. 21 – vs. Shiocton, 5 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 28 – at Wittenberg-Birnamwood, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 18 – vs. St. Mary Catholic, 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 25 – vs. Loyal, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 2 – at Rosholt, 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 9 – vs. Pacelli, 5 p.m.

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