Wolves taking pragmatic approach to upcoming season
By Josh Staloch
ALGOMA – Head coach Wade Vandervest has a pretty straightforward plan for leading the Wolves into battle this season.
The team is going to take what the opposition gives it and stay focused on improving from week to week.
This is probably a good idea, given the competitive nature of the MONLPC-East (the 8-Man league made up of teams from three conferences – Marinette-Oconto, Northern Lakes and Packerland), where last year’s mark of 6-2 saw the Wolves miss out on the playoffs.
Like every high school squad, the Wolves enter the new season minus a couple of key components from last year’s team, starters like Austin Haegele OL; Carson Lischka WR/DB; Kade Preston OL/DL; Chris-Alan Ritchie OL/DL and Kaden Vardon, Algoma’s All-Region WR.
All will be difficult to replace but look for starting quarterback Grand Vandervest to counter any level of inexperience along the offensive line with his speed, making him a threat on the ground to go along with Isaac Yunk, whose bruising running style makes him tough to bring down.
Without giving too much away heading into the team’s season opening scrimmage at Sevastopol, coach Vandervest is satisfied with how this year’s team is taking shape.
“With just over a week of practice in, we are getting there,” said coach Vandervest, who has been at the helm of the Wolves’ football program since 2002. “The athletes are starting to understand the concepts we are discussing in practice and they are starting to show some good progress.”
Along with Yunk and Vandervest, other key starters returning from last year’s group include Tyler Challis, a DB and Mason Mehlon at OL/DL.
Coach Vandervest noted that, in the 8-man format, it’s important for players to be able to adapt to situations from series to series and down to down. The Wolves work all offseason long to be able to react to whatever the other team is trying to do, on either side of the ball.
“We are constantly improving as a team from one practice to the next,” he said. “As the season progresses that will be key to keep on improving. We are different from last year’s team. Last year we had a little more size, this year we may have a little more quickness.”