Hornets hoping to rebound from a 2-7 campaign last season
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Preble football team is looking to begin the 2022 season stronger than it ended last season.
After starting 2-1 after three conference games in the rugged Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC), the Hornets lost four consecutive games to end the season, falling by a combined margin of 165-19.
Coupled with its two nonconference losses to begin its campaign, Preble finished 2-7.
In 2021, the Hornets beat FRCC foes Sheboygan South and Green Bay Southwest for their only wins.
“It’s not quite what we had in mind,” Preble coach Dustin Gresen said about last season. “In the first half of games, we played well and stayed with teams, but we got tired in the second half. The COVID-19 restrictions (the Green Bay Area Public School District) had last season made it tough for us to do everything we wanted for conditioning –- we ran out of gas. I know the other (Green Bay) public schools had the same issue.” Gresen said the goals are the same every year.
“Like every season, we came into the year wanting to compete for a conference title and make the playoffs –- this year will be no different,” he said. Gresen, entering his fifth season as head coach, said because the COVID restrictions are in the rearview mirror, his team has been working hard.
“I’m pleased with the effort the kids are making,” he said. “Hopefully, their hard work translates into more wins and better play. We’ve had some helpful coaching changes at well.”
Gresen said last season’s youth should bode well for this year, and into the future.
“We had a bunch of then-sophomores starting who are now juniors,” he said. “We also ended last season with 45 freshmen in the program.”
Gresen said he’s expecting about 25 juniors and 15 seniors in the program.
“Typically, we see a bigger group of juniors and seniors,” he said.
The Hornets begin their 2022 campaign with another pair of nonconference games –- hosting D.C. Everest on Thursday, Aug. 18, and traveling to Appleton North the following Thursday, “To help prepare us for the FRCC, I wanted to make sure we have good nonconference opponents,” Gresen said.
Like last season, Preble has a tough stretch to end the season, facing five teams –- Ashwaubenon, Notre Dame Academy, De Pere, West De Pere and Pulaski, respectively –- that made the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs in 2021.
“There’s never a week off,” Gresen laughed.
If the Hornets are to compete for a conference crown, they’ll likely lean on senior quarterback David Torres and an experienced offensive line.
“David is returning, but like everyone else, he’ll have to earn it,” Gresen said. “David has good leadership and is looking good. I think it’s his job to lose –- we have confidence in him.”
Gresen said running back Ja’donn Potter-Kanyanta, who received carries last year as a sophomore, has matured physically and should get the bulk of the carries as a junior.
“One of our strengths is our offensive line,” Gresen said. “Four of our five starters are returning and have good experience – they’ve matured well.”
On the defensive side, Gresen said his team lost the most starters.
“That’s from a senior standpoint,” he said. “We’ll be younger on the defensive line.”
Gresen said he hopes his team is at the top of the FRCC, but nabs Bay Port and Pulaski as two of the favorites.
“That’s based on last year and what’s coming back,” he said. “With the coaching change at De Pere, you have to see how that plays out. West De Pere has a dynamite running back (Najeh Mitchell). Ultimately, I think it’ll be Bay Port and Pulaski, but it’s a loaded conference. Top to bottom, I think we have the best conference in the state.”
PREBLE’S REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE
Aug. 18 vs. D.C. Everest
Aug. 25 @ Appleton North
Sept. 2 vs. Bay Port
Sept. 9 vs. Green Bay Southwest
Sept. 16 @ Ashwaubenon
Sept. 23 @ Notre Dame Academy
Sept. 30 vs. De Pere
Oct. 7 @ West De Pere
Oct. 14 @ Pulaski
Note: All games begin at 7 p.m.