Union Grove cornerback Thomas Hempel gets his hand in the way at just the right time to prevent a big pass play to Dominic Miller in a game last season with the Wolverines (File Photo/Southern Lakes Newspapers).

By Tim Wester

The difference in the Union Grove football team will be something anyone can see entering the 2019 season.

Thanks to a new weight room and an enthusiastic new strength and conditioning coordinator, the Broncos are bigger, faster, and more confident.

Can it translate into more wins this season?

Union Grove coach Craig McClelland certainly likes what he sees so far.

“We hired Cody Clapper as our new strength and conditioning coordinator in February and we have a new weight room facility as well,” McClelland said.

McClelland, whose team finished 4-5 overall and 3-4 in Southern Lakes Conference play a year ago, said he is excited to see how it will translate on the gridiron this season.

“The kids utilized both and look like totally different people after six months in weight room. I’m looking forward to seeing it on the field tonight against Racine Lutheran.”

Senior two-way lineman Mickey Rewolinski serves as exhibit A for the new-look Broncos, adding 50 pounds to his 6-foot-6 frame, which brings him to 260 pounds.

“Mickey found the weight room and took better care of his body,” McClelland said. “We’re hanging our hat on him to have a big year on both sides of the line. He is explosive off the ball and a game changer.”

Rewolinski will be tasked with protecting junior quarterback Nash Wolf, who looks to improve from his sophomore season that was shortened by injury.

“Nash is back to full strength and has looked pretty good,” McClelland said. “He played in the first four games before getting hurt against Burlington. He can run but he is really good inside pocket and then getting outside pocket and extending plays.”

Instead of running between the tackles like recent quarterbacks Matt Nelson and Luke Hansel, Wolf will use his speed and elusiveness to extend plays.

Complementing Wolf will be an improved running game led by senior Konnor Goetsch.

Goetsch, who runs track in the spring, will be utilized in space to capitalize on his speed. Joining Goetsch in the backfield will be inside runners Nick Williams and Garrett Foley.

The Bronco backfield will run behind a big and experienced line anchored by Rewolinski, Connor Esch, and junior Andrew Avila

“We haven’t had a strong game in the past, but we return a lot of size on the line that should help us establish an inside running game that will force teams to stop keying on our outside stuff”

Junior Ryan Davis returns to anchor the receiving corps. Senior Tommy Hempel will also see plenty of time as a receiver. Sophomore tight end Luke Kokat will also be a primary target for Wolf

Rewolinski leads the way defensively as an end for the Broncos.

“Mickey is explosive off the ball and has great hands,” McClelland said. “He is a game changer.”

Jon Sackman also returns to man the middle linebacker spot with Kokat nabbing the other inside spot. Williams will be an outside linebacker.

Hempel and Mark Galles have been named the starting safeties, with Goetsch nabbing a corner sport.

The Broncos play tonight at home against Racine Lutheran.

To read the entire story see the Aug. 23 edition of the Westine Report.