It was another postseason appearance for the Hortonville Polar Bears last year, the first for head coach Tom Kolosso after taking over the head coaching duties full-time.
Their season came to an abrupt end in level-1, however, falling to Pulaski in a close 35-28 game at home.
The sour taste remains for the players and coaching staff, but after an offseason of hard work, coach Kolosso says they’re ready to move past that.
“I feel really good coming in,” Kolosso said of his team this year. “I love where we’re at in week two. Obviously a long way to go yet, but we had a great offseason and it’s just picked right up into our season right now. Couldn’t be happier with how it’s gone until this point and just how the team is coming together.”
The Polar Bears will have a lot of offensive production to replace after graduating Charlie Schabo, Elliot Luker and Brock Young, the team’s leading passer, rusher and receiver. But they are returning a key and often overlooked group.
“We’re bringing the whole offensive line back, which is nice,” Kolosso said. “That group looks really good. We’re developing some depth at that group for the first time. First off, it puts us in a great spot, just coming in with the scheme where we have guys with so much already installed and I think in some ways for these young skill guys, or guys coming out for the first time, what an advantage to have an experienced line in front of you.”
Wyatt Jentz will be a four-year starter in the trenches. He’s hoping he and his fellow linemen will be able to be an anchor for the offense and be a model of consistency.
“I just try to bring in the experience I’ve had the past three years and how guys have worked and carried themselves on the field,” Jentz said. “I try to take a little bit of every year and kind of keep it into one and make sure everyone is doing their job, but also make sure I’m a friend to everyone. Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you’re anything different than anyone else on the field.”
Because the VFA has now been divided up into three divisions, Hortonville’s conference, the VFA-South, has been trimmed to five teams. Coach Kolosso says they’re not changing their approach and the goal remains the same.
“I think every year coming in, especially at a school that doesn’t have a real rich football tradition that spans back, every team wants to do something that a Hortonville team hasn’t done before, whether it’s that first conference championship in this league, a deeper playoff run, getting past level-3, something that we haven’t done yet. I think that’s always the goal coming in.”
Their division features Oshkosh North, Oshkosh West, Fond Du Lac and Neenah.