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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Bayerl Looks at Rebuilding Season for Young Bulldogs

Issue Date: August 22, 2019

Last year's Peshtigo football team came out of the gate firing, scoring points in a hurry and winning its first six games before finishing 7-3 overall. It's a whole new team this year.

Peshtigo lost 13 seniors from last year's team, almost all starters and many on multiple sides of the ball. Head Coach Jeff Bayerl estimated nine of the seniors his team lost started on defense and about eight regulars on offense, including two-way star Mitchell VanVooren, Travis Plym, Zach LeMahieu and more.

That means the team will start three sophomores off the bat and eventually a fourth will make his way into the fold: Will Boettcher, Ehtan Barggren, Darius Sechen and Adam Reiswitz.

The team does have eight seniors and nine juniors, but numbers are still fairly low, with 26 players listed on the team roster as of last week.

"It's going to be a war of attrition," Bayerl said. "We're going to get to the fourth quarter and we're going to find out what we're made of, because we're going to have to be in shape, so we're going to have to run a bit more, get a little bit more in shape."

The team has 10 lineman to block for returning senior running back Jerod Jandt, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. He was a force before the injury, namely rushing for 238 yards and three scores against Two Rivers, a team Peshtigo faces Friday in its season opener. If he can do that again this season, Bayerl likes his chances this season.

"If they can block for Jerod, we're going to be just fine," Bayerl said of his linemen. Key players that have looked good this pre-season included seniors Mitchell Peters, Devin Wauters, Gunner Sommers, and junior Preston Rehwinkle.

Of course, Bayerl's enthusiasm for his team hasn't diminished at all. Kewaunee, which went undefeated in the conference last season, is back with new tools and a lot of its top players, including star running back Owen Kudick. The storm is the favorite, but don't count out the Bulldogs, Bayerl said.

"If we stay healthy, we're going to be in the mix," he said.

Peshtigo opens with Two Rivers on Friday before taking on Bonduel and Niagara/Goodman/Pembine for the first time in years. Familiar foes from Crandon, Menominee and Oconto set the stage in the middle of the season and the Bulldogs finish with Southern Door and Kewaunee. Sturgeon Bay made a late move to eight-man football as the Packerland re-aligns. That also meant Coleman fell off the schedule, but Bayerl hopes they'll be back on the Bulldogs' radar soon, eyeing a non-conference tilt to start next season.

"Hopefully we get that rivalry back because they're a joy to play," he said. "They're a joy to play because they're hard-nosed, they're tough and once you play them, you know where you stand. They're well-coached, they know what they're doing, we know what we're doing and it's always a good game."

For now, however, it's on to Two Rivers with a young football team hoping to prove itself.

The Peshtigo football squad includes seniors John Shoupe, Justin Potkey, Mitchell Peters, Jordan Riebe, and Jon Courtis. Juniors suiting up this season will be Jesse Jandt, John Schaut, Keegan Elfstrom, Braeden Paris, Riley Plosczynski, Mike Staton, Cody Salzman and Dylan Sommers. Freshman newcomers include Trevor Marquardt, Ryder DeMarce, Kyle Rupert, Jon LaForce, and Carson Paris.

Bayerl's staff and support group consists of Pat Robbins-Defensive Coordinator, Rick Raygo-Line Coach, Lucas Pedersen-Backs, Line Bakers Coach, Alex Harper and John Berth, and managers Olivia May and Jack Raygo.


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