2017 HS Football Previews : Fond du Lac Cardinals

The Fond du Lac Cardinals enter the 2017 season looking to continue their recent run of success, which includes making the playoffs four years in a row and three consecutive trips to level three of the WIAA Playoffs. Where does that place the mindset of the Cardinal team? Nowhere close to complacency. Cardinals’ head coach Mike Gnewuch says that this team doesn’t have a “chip” on its shoulder, it has a boulder. “We haven’t done anything yet”, Gnewuch says. “Yeah, we’ve won one conference championship, we’ve won a few games, but at the end of the day, we haven’t done anything and we want to take that next step.”

So, where does that next step start in 2017? On the offensive side of the ball, the Cardinals will look to pound the rock and set up the passing game once again with running backs like Colton Wasieleski and Eben Sauer. Senior Jack Cole will lead the way on offense at quarterback, after a junior season that saw him throw for over 1,700 yards, 20 touchdowns and earn second-team All Conference honors. “I’m expecting him to be more vocal and a better leader because it’s now his team”, Gnewuch said of Cole. “We’re looking for him to make some better decisions this year and diagnose some things a little bit quicker.” The Cardinals also return four players with starting experience on the offensive line and have a good crop of skill players returning as well on offense.

On defense, the Cardinals understand the challenge to replace departed seniors Donte Johnson, Devon Krzanowski and Trey Halfmann, all of whom will play college football at the Division Two level this fall. Gnewuch says the defensive unit is talented, but inexperienced. “We just hope to keep building on what we’ve done, so even though we don’t have the experience that we’d like on the defensive side of the ball, I think we have enough talent to overcome that lack of experience.”

The VFA takes on a new look this year, with the conference splitting into three divisions – North, South and West. The departure of Wausau East from the VFA-North caused the split. The change means Fond du Lac will play the toughest schedule in the state in Division One, with four-time defending State Champion Kimberly on the schedule to open week one. That is along with games against DC Everest, Appleton North and Stevens Point and a road non-conference game against Menominee, Michigan.

2017 Fond du Lac Cardinals Schedule:

8/18: Kimberly – 7:00 pm

8/25: At D.C. Everest – 7:00 pm

9/1:   Appleton North – 7:00 pm

9/8:   At Menomonie, MI – 7:00 pm

9/15: At Hortonville – 7:00 pm

9/22: Oshkosh North – 7:00 pm

9/28: At Oshkosh West – 7:00 pm

10/6: Neenah – 7:00 pm

10/13: At Stevens Point – 7:00 pm

Listen to the KFIZ High School Football Preview show Friday at 6pm. On the show, you can hear the full interview with Cardinals head coach Mike Gnewuch and other coaches from around the area. The show is brought to you by AirTech Heating in Fond du Lac.

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