Bay Port seeking state title
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – Stocked with talent, the Bay Port football team is looking for bigger and better things this season – a state title.
Stopped in the WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinals in each of the last three seasons, the Pirates will be looking to get over the hump this year.
“I don’t want to shy away from the fact that we want to compete for a state title,” said Bay Port head coach Gary Westerman. “High expectations are good – it means we have a good team and have worked hard. Certainly, losing the last three seasons when we did, we don’t ever want to lose. It’s about staying healthy and coming together at the right time.”
The Pirates were hit by the injury bug late in the playoffs, especially in their 38-20 quarterfinal loss to Kimberly.
“We were down our two top starting defensive backs in that game,” Westerman said. “During the course of the game, our center also went down – those were big injuries. Our goal this offseason has been to work on our depth and get more guys repetition.”
The Pirates last lost a Fox River Classic Conference game to end the 2015 season.
Since then, Bay Port has won 27 consecutive FRCC contests and gone 33-3 during that span.
“Honestly, we don’t talk about the streak at all – that’s for the media,” Westerman laughed. “It will be nice to look back on someday, but now we are focused on winning another conference title and making a deep run in the playoffs.”
Anchored by two Division I verbal commits in Braden Doyle (offensive lineman – Central Michigan University) and Max Meeuwsen (defensive lineman – Naval Academy), Bay Port should have a better-than-average chance to up its conference winning streak to 36 by season’s end.
“Guys like Braden and Max have worked extremely hard to get to this point,” Westerman said. “They lead by example – the other players take note of that.”
Other all-conference players returning are Jacob Nugent (offensive lineman), Isaiah Gash (running back), Austin Heim (kicker), Jose Ramirez (defensive lineman), Call Verlanic (linebacker), Logan Geissler (defensive back), Daniel Forystek (offensive lineman), Cole Weber (tight end) and Jayden Montgomery (inside linebacker).
All are seniors except for the sophomore Montgomery.
Gash, who rushed for 1,647 yards and scored 30 touchdowns last year, is currently nursing a knee injury and may miss a game or two.
Senior quarterback Andrew Thomas gained valuable experience during the playoffs after last season’s starter Jake Plummer went down with an injury.
“Our offensive line is very experienced,” said Westerman. “We have five of our six starters returning there, but we have a young receiving corps. Not many people are going to know their names, but they are all good kids and work hard.”
Defensively, the Pirates surrendered less than 10 points per game, including pitching five shutouts.
“Our front seven is extremely athletic,” Westerman added. “They’ve worked hard and will be a strength. Teams will have a hard time moving the ball against us.”
Name: Gary Westerman
School: Bay Port
Years coaching at Bay Port: 8
Other football coaching gigs: Pulaski, Kimberly
Most memorable coaching moment: “Obviously, winning the state titles when I was an assistant coach with Kimberly were very special, but a game against Ashwaubenon in 2014 sticks out. We went for it from our own 35-yard line on fourth down to seal the game. The 2018 Stevens Point four-overtime thriller is also a memorable game.”
Coaching mentor: “Steve Jorgenson – he has a great football mind.”
Best high school player you’ve coached against: “While at Bay Port, I’d say Pulaski’s Dylan Hendricks, a 2019 graduate – he was incredible. You don’t often see a high school kid work that hard.”
Goals for 2019: “We want to compete for a state championship. Our goal is to get better each week in practice – it starts with week one.”
My coaching style is: “It’s important to be yourself. I’m a player’s coach and enjoy building relationships with my players. I want to be demanding and get them to work hard but do it in a positive manner.”
Bay Port 2019 regular season schedule
8/22 – Manitowoc Lincoln
8/29 – @ Green Bay Preble
9/6 – @ Notre Dame Academy
9/13 – Green Bay Southwest
9/20 – De Pere
9/27 – @ Sheboygan North
10/4 – @ Ashwaubenon
10/11 – Sheboygan South
10/18 – Pulaski
- All games begin at 7 p.m.