Bakken: ‘We’ve got high expectations’

Not one to jump to conclusions with lofty goals, Adam Bakken, now in his eighth season as Wolverines head coach, says this fall’s squad shows similarities to the team’s state runner-up team of 2011. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

By Chris Bennett

Sports Correspondent   

Waterford Union High School football coach Adam Bakken is not privy to braggadocio statements.

Believe him when he says this year’s Waterford Wolverines football team could be one of the best in his eight years as head coach.

That means this squad could be up there with the 2011 team that advanced to the WIAA Division 2 state championship and finished as the runner-up.

That means this squad could be up there with those teams that won a share of five straight Southern Lakes Conference titles between 2011 and 2015.

The Wolverines get their first chance to make 2018 a season to remember tonight at home with a non-conference game against Franklin.

The Division 1 Sabers are one of Wisconsin’s premier programs over the last decade.

Bakken said health and eligibility are huge when it comes to putting the best possible team on the field.

“We’ve had some issues the past couple of years,” Bakken said. “If those two things happen, there is no reason why this can’t be one of the best teams I’ve coached in my eight years of being the head coach.

“We’ve got high expectations.”

The Wolverines finished 8-3 overall in 2017, and went 5-1 and finished second in the SLC. Waterford’s season ended with a 40-14 loss at Monona Grove in the second round of the Division 2 playoffs. The Wolverines opened the playoffs with a 28-27 victory at home against Burlington.

There is experience on each side of the ball this season, and Bakken said the senior class is a good bunch of young men.

“The senior class is such a good group of kids,” Bakken said. “They’re so respectful, and so fun to work with. They’re just really good kids – in and out of school.

“I just like going to practice and working with these kids this year – more than I have in a few years. It’s a solid group of guys we have playing.”

The Wolverines return eight starters on offense – including four on the offensive line – and five or six starters, according to Bakken, on defense.

Waterford recently scrimmaged Menomonee Falls and Hartford at Hartford, and Bakken said the offense impressed.

“We were really balanced,” Bakken said. “We completed some passes. Last year, our balance of run to pass was way too heavy on the run. When people are putting nine or 10 people in the box to try to stop the run, it’s very difficult.”

Quarterback Joe Schauer is back for another season as the starters. Tanner Keller and Dominic Miller are the primary running backs, and Tony Mastrocola is the tight end. Willie Ketterhagen, Josh Szelinski and Cole Weinkauf will share time at wide receiver.

“I said at the end of last year – if everyone works the way that they are capable, this line’s got the chance to be one of, if not the best, we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Bakken said of Waterford’s offensive line. “It creates a lot of positives – a lot of opportunity.”

AJ Goessl will line up at center. Trevor Pye and Alex Ochs are the guards, and Boyd Biggs and Jake Francisco are the tackles.

Defensively, Bakken said Waterford’s look will vary from game to game and opponent to opponent. The offenses in the SLC range from power football to the spread.

Jake Mittelstaedt and Mastrocola will line up at defensive end. Jacob Maydak will also see time. Biggs and Gavin Morawetz will play defensive tackle.

Joe Covelli, Wes Pittlekow, Dominic Miller and Jacob Lilla are at linebacker. Ketterhagen and Jake Kempken are at safety, and Erik Rowe and Josh Szelinski are at cornerback.

Waterford does not return as many starters on defense as on offense.

“We’re pretty athletic,” Bakken said. “From what I’ve seen, usually with young players, it takes a little while before they’re comfortable. They’re comfortable already.”

Bakken said the Wolverines, Badger and Wilmot – between them – have won a piece of the SLC each year over the last 7 years. The trio comprises the teams to watch in the SLC. Burlington is also expected to be competitive in the SLC.

“Our goals are pretty simple from year to year,” Bakken said. “We want to compete for a conference championship, and we want to make a run in the playoffs. Both of those things are within reach.”

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