The Clintonville Truckers football team will once again have their work cut out for them. Coming off their second winless season in four years, the Truckers don’t expect to light the world on fire, but they’re hoping to prove people wrong.
They’ll play this year with two co-head coaches-Jim Ash and Jeff Brightwell-who will each focus on their respective sides of the ball, on offense and defense.
They know this season will present some unique challenges, but they want their players to be focused on the game, rather than staff changes around the program.
“You can only deal with the things you have the power to control,” said co-head coach Jeff Brightwell. “We’ve got the power as coaches to prepare them as best we can and they need to come and give effort, have the right attitude, work hard and not worry about things that are out of control.”
Those around the program know of the limited success had over recent years, but that doesn’t mean the team can’t focus on winning smaller battles and start to turn the perception of Clintonville football.
“It’s a short-term goal: win each play, win each practice and win each rep,” Brightwell said. “Don’t worry about winning the games as much as you do constantly improving, giving your best effort.”
That will start by the leading the underclassmen by example, but from what the veterans on this team have seen seen so far, they’re taking it to heart.
“I want to help boost the kids,” said senior running back and safety Jason Bilek. “Recently, we haven’t been practicing as much as a team and I really want to get everything back in order. [That happens by] dishing out nicknames. There’s kids showing up in the weight room regularly. Every single morning they’d get here before me and leave after me. There’s a lot of dedicated underclassmen here.”
The program will get a boost from the number of players signed up for football as well this season. Ben Tessmer points the difference in size between this year’s and last year’s senior class.
“Our senior class in particular is significantly bigger,” he said. “Last year we had three or four, this year we have quite a few more, eight or nine. That’s regular players, regular dedicated weight room lifters and everything.”
It’s not a secret what others say about Clintonville football, but the team is using it as motivation. Ultimately, these seniors want to lay the foundation that helps the program trend in the right direction.
“I know there’s been some people that say Clintonville is just a bunch of losers and we really just want to get that mentality out of here,” said senior quarterback Kyle Finger. “We want to get back to the mentality of winning with all of our sports in Clintonville. I know we just haven’t been lately and we really just want to bring that culture back.”
It will still be difficult to compete with the likes of Freedom, Little Chute and Luxemburg-Casco, given the distinct size disadvantage. The trenches will also be a challenge, but center Jack Klein says they’re going to go out and grind day in and day out.
“The main focus is just to battle no matter what,” Klein said. “We play teams with 300-pounders. We don’t have a single o-lineman over 200 pounds yet. Really our main goal is to battle, stay in the fight.”
Clintonville opens the season by hosting Fox Valley Lutheran.