De Pere Redbirds football ready to finish strong against Oshkosh West

Sports

The De Pere football team won't win an FRCC championship or make a deep playoff run, but they can finish the alternate spring football season undefeated.

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – Heading into the final Friday night of the alternate spring football season, there are 12 teams that are still undefeated in the state of Wisconsin. De Pere is one of those schools that are still in the ranks of the unbeaten and if they are able to beat Oshkosh West, they will also finish with an unblemished record at 7-0.

“I was actually looking at that historically and just curious, some years they (De Pere) played six games, some years they played five, and you never knew back in the ‘olden’ days what rhyme or reason was for that,” said head coach Chad Michaelwicz. “But it’s a unique challenge and situation.  We were hoping we would get seven (games) in and we did. And our goal from day one was seven up, seven down, and here we are with an opportunity to do that.”

The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the spring high school sports season last year in its entirety, and during the fall football season, only a small percentage of big schools from larger cities took part. Six months later with few exceptions, the experiment went on without a hitch.

”It’s really cool when you know when the end is coming, in a different way.  And the seniors that are not going to play football ever again, it’s a great opportunity for them to get the proper closure,” said Michaelwicz. “And for the kids who are turning around and playing college ball, they’re going to be in the best shape coming to a fall that they’ve ever been, and the same for the underclassmen coming back next year.” 

“We got the seniors together in the fall and we just kind of talked about things. We’ve been training on and off and it’s been hard with how school is,” said DB/WR Bennett Spaeth. “We’ve been training together throughout this whole off-season, and the extended off-season, and it’s just been a lot of fun with this team.  I think the extended period brought our chemistry together.”

Given the history and strength of FVA powerhouses Kimberly and Fond du Lac, who are both 6-0, most consider that game to be the unofficial championship in Northeast Wisconsin.  But without a formal playoff this year, going undefeated would be an accomplishment that few teams have ever done, even if it was against lesser competition.

“It was just 2 and 1/2 months for this season but almost a year and a half journey. Trying to get these guys to buy in and do something with the ultimate unknown. We never knew if and when it would happen,” said Michaelwicz. “You never know if you’re going to get shut down, or certain kids get shut down. It’s just that’s there’s a constant unknown and it is very taxing but enjoyable experience. It’s a great group of kids to coach, and we have an opportunity to close out a special season.”

Spaeth added, “I’m so excited and also a little bit sad too. It’s been six or seven years that I’ve been a part of this program, along with the seniors, so it’s been a long time coming. It came and went quicker than all of us expected.”

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