Catholic Central High School football players take their positions along the line of scrimmage during a Tuesday practice at St. Mary’s School in Burlington (Mike Ramczyk/Standard Press).

Big changes coming to Catholic Central, but coach preaches same expectations

By Mike Ramczyk

A storied football program, no doubt, believe it or not, Catholic Central hasn’t reached a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association playoff game since 2015.

In fact, the Hilltoppers have won a total of four games over the past three seasons, with three of them coming last year.

A strong senior class of talent is graduated, however, and it could be back to the drawing board for head coach Tom Aldrich, now in his 28th year.

With 24 total players, the odds are stacked from a numbers standpoint, but this is nothing new from a school of roughly 120 students.

However, despite its size and Division 7 standing, Aldrich seems to always get the most out of his guys and exceed expectations.

“I’m concerned but not worried,” Aldrich said via text message Tuesday. “They are what they are. I’ll take a few passionate and courageous young men over a larger bunch that just swim with the current.”

“These guys want to play football. What more could you ask for? We are planning on playing a JV season as well. Time will tell.”

The Metro Classic Conference will once again be loaded, with defending Division 4 state champion Racine St. Catherine’s, defending Division 6 runner-up Racine Lutheran and powers like Greendale Martin Luther. Aldrich believes there could be another state champion from the league this season.

Still, he hopes the Toppers can have a winning conference record, despite losing leading passer Todd Suchomel and leading rusher Cade Dirksmeyer. Also, star lineman Tyler Shaw graduated and is playing Division 1 college football at Eastern Michigan.

Leading receiver Davey Doerflinger, who piled up 218 yards through the air last year, returns for his senior season.

“We are hoping to be above .500 and qualify for the playoffs,” Aldrich added.

The spirited Toppers took to the St. Mary’s practice field Tuesday afternoon for a late practice, as 12 main varsity players worked on offensive and defensive drills, and the remaining players worked on catching, running routes and bursting off the line of scrimmage.

Leading the charge were the team’s key returning letter-winners, including second team All-Conference Chas Miles, a senior offensive lineman and linebacker, senior quarterback/defensive back Brandon Pum, Doerflinger and senior lineman Bennett Robson.

Despite the tough conference, the Toppers enjoyed their best season since 2015 last year with a 3-6 overall record and 2-5 mark in conference.

Aldrich will be joined on the coaching staff this season by Joe Vrchota, Rob Hintz, Kyle Kresken, Wally Sebuck and Joe Otzelberger.

Catholic Central kicks off its 2019 campaign Friday night at University School in Whitefish Bay.

The Toppers play their first game at home in the Topper Bowl Friday, Aug. 30 against Living Word Lutheran.