Eau Claire, Altoona (WQOW) — A new season brings with it plenty of energy and optimism no matter what a team’s record was the previous year. Both Eau Claire North and Altoona look to take steps forward in 2018.
The Huskies have a new head coach, Andy Jarzynski, who had been Augusta’s head coach the past five seasons. Jarzynski and his staff have long-term goals: the big one being increasing the participation numbers in the program. In the short-term, he’d like his guys to mind the details and believe in the process of improving every day.
"I think back to when I was a kid, North was always in the conversation for the conference title, it can be done," Jarzynski says, "you can see back here with the trophy case that it’s been done in the past, and these kids walk by this every day, and we want to reconnect them with that a little bit so that they realize that if they do A, B, C, and D, that they can at least put themselves in a position to be competitive down the road."
North kicked off the 2015 season with a pair of non-conference games, but has lost every game since. Injuries and a small roster have taken their toll in recent years, but Jarzysnki is encouraged that there are more players out this season (in excess of 50) than there were last year (in the 40’s). The Huskies have a relatively small senior class of eleven players, but those guys are determined to be good leaders.
North senior quarterback Bennett Mayer says, "Definitely be a man and control what you can control, don’t worry about what other people are saying, just control what you can control. We lost some seniors last year but our senior class this year is kind of small, but we’re definitely a brotherhood and stuff, and our underclassmen are really strong and I’m looking forward to playing with them too."
Huskies senior fullback Sam Hasow wants to help his team get into the win column.
"That’s been a goal for a while, hasn’t been happening for a while, but we’re doing everything we can," Hasow says, "we’ve got to have the right effort, the right attitude, and doing everything we can to get better every single day."
North kicks off its season on Thursday, August 16, when the Huskies host La Crosse Central>
Altoona also has a new head coach this season. Martin Adams takes over after being a Railroaders assistant coach last year. Altoona won back to back midseason games in 2017, and Adams has fairly straightforward expectations for this year’s team.
"Number one, play with class, play at 100 percent all the time," says Adams, "and play with the mindset to win,winning is not a swear word, and it’s okay to win, and that’s what we have to, you know, we’ve got to have that mindset around here and we will, and we will, absolutely."
The Rails showed flashes of being a quick-strike offense last season, and among the returners is quarterback Nate McMahon, who started last year as a sophomore. Still, McMahon is focused on improving.
"Our expectations are to obviously reduce our turnovers because we had a decent amount of those last year," McMahon says, "and then improve the hustle, a lot."
"That’ll be great for us this year because we know how Nate plays, he knows how we play, we know the snap counts, we know how everything works," says Railroaders senior offensive and defensive lineman Blake Loegering, "I mean, it’ll really come together nice this year, I think. "
Altoona played a lot of young players last season, and that experience figures to help going forward.
"We have a lot of starters coming back from last year, so we get to work together, we get to build off that platform," says Railroaders junior running back / linebacker Paxton Gluch, "myself, our D-line is out there again which is nice, and it’s going to be good."
Altoona kicks off the season on Friday, August 17th, when the Railroaders will host Stanley-Boyd.
"That’ll be great for us this year because we know how Nate plays," says he knows how we play, we know the snap counts, we know how everything works, I mean, it’ll really come together nice this year, I think ….."