Schroeder duo finds success at Ashwaubenon
By Greg Bates
ASHWAUBENON – Green Bay Packers fans remember No. 84 as a quick, long-ball target for quarterback Brett Favre.
Bill Schroeder had six solid seasons with the Packers and 10 years overall in the NFL.
Now there’s a new No. 84 in town sporting a green jersey – Schroeder’s son, Luke.
The junior at Ashwaubenon High School has emerged as a talented wide receiver, just like his dad.
Luke’s breakout campaign for the Jaguars has been enhanced because he’s able to share the experience with his dad.
Bill recently completed his sixth season at Ashwaubenon as the wide receivers coach.
The former NFL player has worked at the varsity level the last two seasons with his son and teammates after Luke earned the starting nod as a sophomore.
“It’s awesome,” Luke said. “I’ve always had him coaching me – I’m not used to anything else. Every time I score, we jump and shoulder bump. He’s a great coach, and I love him.”
In his first year as head coach, Brian Ryczkowski was quick to retain Bill as the receivers coach.
“It’s a thrill for those guys to work together,” Ryczkowski said. “You see them shoulder bump after touchdowns, and I know Bill is really proud of his kid.”
Ryczkowski didn’t know what to expect working with Bill, but it’s a been a relationship with those two as well.
“He’s coachable himself,” Ryczkowski said. “He’s interested in doing things the right way. He’s knowledgeable and he’s played football at a higher level than I ever have.”
Bill started coaching Luke in first grade for flag football.
“He’s eager to learn,” Bill said. “He’s a great teammate and extremely coachable. He’s willing to help the other kids and gives you 100 percent because he knows he’s the coach’s kid. He has to work extra hard to put those rumors to rest – he works his butt off.”
Luke ended the regular season with 29 catches for 557 yards with nine receiving touchdowns.
He also added a touchdown on the ground.
Bill, who finished his NFL career with 304 catches for 3,583 yards and 28 touchdowns, has always told Luke that preparation for game day is a week-long event and doesn’t happen overnight.
“It’s not just running the route and catching the ball – it’s how do you work a release against a certain type of coverage,” Bill said. “We watch film a lot together. It’s knowing your opponent: what are they going to do, and what are their tendencies?”
Luke is able to pick up things from his dad that he uses in games.
“What to watch in film, what to do and how to run routes,” said Luke, who is 16. “Learn the basics and acute details along the way.”
One area Bill stresses with Luke and his fellow wide receivers is being able to block effectively.
“Sam [Nooyen] and Luke are active wide receivers who like to block,” Bill said. “They take it to heart and don’t take a play off.”
Since he was young, football was the sport for Luke.
In his final year in the NFL in 2004, Bill was able to toss footballs to Luke on the field before games.
There was also a lot of playing catch in the family’s backyard.
“That’s how I lost my first tooth – ball hit me in the face and knocked it out,” Luke said.
Luke doesn’t remember his dad’s NFL playing days because he was less than 2 years old in Bill’s final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With his NFL experience – playing for the Packers, Detroit Lions and Bucs – Bill is able to get through to Luke and the Ashwaubenon receivers a little clearer.
“He’s my dad, so obviously we chip a little bit,” Luke said. “Everyone on the team respects him, and he’s a great coach. Everyone listens to him.”
Luke is also an accomplished track and field athlete.
Last year as a sophomore, he placed seventh at state in the WIAA Division 1 300-meter hurdles (40.41 seconds).
“Luke has tremendous track speed, so if we can get him the ball in space, he’s a touchdown every time he touches the ball,” Ryczkowski said.
Bill is also a coach on the track and field team.
It’s another bond they share together, but football is king between the two.
“Every Saturday, we’ll go watch football together or Sunday night football,” Luke said. “Our thing is football.”
Every Friday under the lights is their night, too – with Luke on the field and Bill on the sidelines.
It’s a special connection both will forever cherish.