Eight-man football style fits N.E.W. Lutheran
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Despite not being eligible for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) eight-man postseason playoffs, the Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran/Oneida Nation co-op team is still showing plenty of excitement and hope.
The WIAA rule says school teams with an enrollment of more than 200 students are not eligible for the playoffs.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes,” Richard Hassler, N.E.W. Lutheran/Oneida Nation head coach, said. “With more teams going the eight-man route, the WIAA will have to eventually change that rule, in my opinion.”
Coming off a spring season with 30 players on the roster, Hassler, who is entering his 14th season at N.E.W. Lutheran, said this year’s squad will be “extremely young.”
“For this season, we’ve lost 10 seniors from last year, but we have lots of freshmen,” he said. “There are four seniors, two juniors and the rest are sophomores and freshmen. It’s exciting to have so many freshmen, but it’s also a bit scary. Our middle school program has way more kids than we’ve had before, so we’re looking more to the future. Having said that, putting freshmen into a varsity football game can be touchy. Even most sophomores might have difficulty. Each team in our conference has between 18 and 28 players.”
The Blazers play in the MONLPC-East with the likes of Algoma, Gibraltar, Gillett, Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas and Sevastopol.
By playing eight-man, N.E.W. Lutheran can be competitive.
“Like the other schools, we don’t have the enrollment to put 22 starters on the field,” Hassler said. “Not having six players combined to start, makes it doable. Eight-man is 100% football, with a few varying things.”
The big difference is the width of the field – it’s about 13 yards narrower than a regular field.
“With the passing game, you run out of field quicker,” Hassler said “We’ve always been a run team and pass when no one is expecting it. We have a solid offensive line coming back but are young at the skill positions.”
The biggest loss is running back Marshal Bukowski.
Bukowski, the conference player of the year, rushed for 909 yards with nine touchdowns in six games (151 yards per game).
“(Bukowski) was a two-way starter for many years,” Hassler said. “He was also a coach on the field – he’ll be sadly missed.”
Bukowski is now playing football at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Hassler said if he could start 16 different players, he would.
“We don’t have the numbers do to that, so I get excited if we have 12 starters,” he said. “That means four guys are typically going both ways. Some guys never come off the field.”
The Blazers will play eight regular-season games with the option of playing a ninth game.
Hassler said the team is playing its home games at Oneida Nation High School.
Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran/Oneida Nation 2021 regular season schedule
8/27 – Wabeno/Laona
9/2 – @ White Lake
9/11 – Three Lakes (1 p.m.)
9/17 – Sevastopol
9/24 – @ Algoma
10/1 – Gibraltar
10/8 – @ Gillett
10/15 – @ Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas
• All games will begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
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