West Bend-Mallard Football Ready to Build on Big 2022

by Tyler Lance
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After making gradual progress in 2021, the West Bend-Mallard Wolverine football team broke through in 2022, qualifying for the class 8-player playoffs, defeating Clarksville 48-0 in the first round and finishing with a record of 7-3, ultimately succumbing to eventual state champion Remsen St. Mary’s in the second round of the postseason.

The seven wins marked the most victories for the Wolverine program since winning 10 games in 2014, and signified the next step in the development of a program that finished just 2-8 in 2019 and 1-7 in 2020. All three of the Wolverines losses in 2022 came against teams that advanced to the state quarterfinals or further.

The Wolverines will rely on some new faces in 2023 after graduating several all-state players, including quarterback Max Fehr, who ran for 1190 yards and 27 touchdowns to go along with eight scores and 662 yards through the air last season.

Head Coach Tyson Wirtz wants a level-headed leader to step up and take command of the position.

West Bend-Mallard’s offense will look for explosive running plays from the quarterback and running back positions, as senior running back Landon Montag is one of the key returners on the unit. Montag carried the rock for 834 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, averaging over five and a half yards per carry. According to Wirtz, Montag added strength and speed during the offseason.

The Wolverines will also have some new faces along the offensive line after the graduations of Ethan Zaugg and Ben Massner. Wirtz feels the line was a key to last year’s success, and will remain one of the main factors going forward.

West Bend-Mallard’s defense also played a key role in last season’s success, holding six of their ten opponents under 20 points. Wirtz feels the defense has established a physical identity that needs to carry through into 2023.

Senior Logan Grimm recorded 40.5 tackles last season and will serve as a leader of the defense. Much of the Wolverine defensive identity also starts along the line. Although the Wolverines graduated leading tackler and all-state selection Ben Massner, who recorded 78 tackles and 10 sacks last season, they return Jaxon Zaugg, who helped anchor the line alongside of Massner with five sacks. Wirtz says they ask a lot from their linemen.

In order to get off to a fast start, the Wolverines will have to navigate a gauntlet of schedule to begin the season. Four of the first five opponents for the Wolverines were playoff qualifiers last season, with the two non-district opponents being Newell-Fonda, who was a state semifinalist last season, and Remsen St. Mary’s, who is the defending 8-player champion. Wirtz says the program is at a point where they need to compete against the best.

West Bend-Mallard kicks off the season with a visit to Newell-Fonda on Friday, August 25th at 7.

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