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West hoping for improved season on gridiron

By Rich Palzewic
– Under first-year coach Drew Brusoe, the Green Bay West High School football team is looking for marked improvement from last season.

“I’m not oblivious to the problems the program has had,” said Brusoe, a Luxemburg-Casco High School graduate. “They haven’t had much success over the years, so it’s going to be lots of work — on and off the field. We’ve got to get the numbers up and have the kids trust us.”

Drew Brusoe

West — in the Bay Conference for all sports but football, where it’s a member of the Fox River Classic Conference — is coming off a 1-8 season. It beat Green Bay East, 14-13, on a blocked field goal in the last 10 seconds of the game.

Brusoe, who played fullback at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, said he’s trying to make practice more fun for his players.

“It’s a fine line,” he said. “You have to push the kids and work hard, but they also need to have fun at practice. We’ve been playing some music at times to keep the energy and enthusiasm up. We’ve also played some mini games before practice.”

Over the last 18 seasons, West has a combined 9-151 record and has gone winless in nine seasons.

“Our numbers (about 35) are decent to start this season,” Brusoe said. “I expect numbers to increase once school starts. The kids have been working hard and are excited to play against somebody in a different colored uniform. Right now, we’re playing physical in practice and limiting our mental mistakes.”

Brusoe has a squad young.

“Currently, we only have four seniors on the team,” he said. “Kids are having to step up and play different roles — maybe ones they are not used to playing.”

The Wildcats only scored 75 total points last year — an 8.3 points-per-game average.

“We definitely need to score more points this season,” Brusoe said. “We have Ronald Schmocker and Ricky Bell competing for the starting quarterback job. Both guys bring in specific skill sets — a Ronald is more of your traditional drop-back passer, while Ricky is a bit more athletic.”

Defensively, West has changed its philosophy under Brusoe.

“We’re seeing kids fly to the football,” he said. “We’ve got a bit more size than what we’ve had in the past, and I think we’re utilizing that size properly. We’re getting (our big guys) in the interior and forcing those running lanes to be tough. We need interior penetration. Running the football and stopping the run are the two main things you must do.”

The Wildcats had a pair of second-team all-conference players last season — sophomore receiver Dakotah Montez and the now graduated Zachary Offield.

Though he’ll be roaming the West sidelines, Brusoe has ties to East.

“My mom and her siblings all went to East,” he said. “Her parents — my grandparents — live in Allouez. I’ve driven by East High School hundreds of times over the years.”

Brusoe is looking forward to the rivalry with the Red Devils.

“It’s unique,” he said. “It’s the longest running, consecutively played high school rivalry in the state, first starting in 1905. (East coach Levi) Nelson is relatively new as well, so it will be exciting to see what each team brings to the table this season. There will be an extra circle placed around that (Sept. 30) game.”

Aug. 19 @ Sturgeon Bay
Aug. 26 @ Manawa
Sept. 2 vs. West De Pere
Sept. 9 @ Menasha
Sept. 16 vs. Sheboygan South
Sept. 23 @ Manitowoc Lincoln
Sept. 30 @ Green Bay East
Oct. 7 vs. Notre Dame Academy
Oct. 14 vs. Sheboygan North
Note: All games begin at 7 p.m.

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