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Prescott football: Time to flip the script

Prescott junior Jonah Anderson throws a bubble screen pass to senior Joe Roosen in a football practice Thursday, Aug. 10. The Cardinals open their season against Rhinelander Friday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. Jalen Knuteson / RiverTown Multimedia

One year after an 0-9 season, the best way to describe the Prescott seniors is driven.

The only direction they can go is up, yes, but winning one game won't be enough for these Cardinals.

Their drive to improve upon a winless season last year started with an attitude adopted from the other sports that these athletes play. The drive has been continued through a dedication to sharing time in the weight room. Not just individually weight lifting, but making sure your teammates are working out, too.

That different attitude and effort has been evident in practice and should be evident when Prescott hosts its season opener against Rhinelander Friday, Aug. 18 at Laney Field.

"We came out kind of flat last year," senior Westy Bartsch said. "This year we're gonna come out fast. Come out aggressive and play with a lot of energy.

"And hopefully we'll be better than last year."

Bartsch shares captain duties with seniors Joe Roosen and Ty Sanford.

Sanford wrestled individually at state last year. Roosen made it to state in basketball and caught for the baseball team which lost in the sectional final.

Sprinkled throughout the roster are athletes who had success and have experienced winning, just not in football.

Jonah Anderson will take over the full-time duty at quarterback. Anderson said motivation was high for everyone to perform, but there's no negative energy coming from last year's winless season.

"We obviously remember it, but no one cares about it really," Anderson said. "We're a completely different team this year. It's a completely different year. We are motivated by it, we want to play much better, but we're completely different."

Interim head coach Kevin Haglund pointed out that it was Oct. 9, 2015, the last time Prescott won a football game.

"I said that and asked them if they were hungry," Haglund said. "I know these seniors are hungry; I know they want to win football games. It's not like they've never won before. I told them that it shouldn't be any different. It's the same kids. Just because the sport changes doesn't mean their attitude and effort should change."

Haglund took over duties as head coach when former coach Matt Smith stepped down to focus on his duties as Athletic Director—a job he accepted during the first week of the season.

"It's kind of been a whirlwind the last couple of weeks," Smith said. "With football and stuff going on, I took a look in the mirror and with my new position as athletic director, assistant principal, and activities director, and being a husband and a dad, I didn't think the football aspect of it would be a good fit time wise.

"We have a very capable staff. I felt good where the team was at. I thought the foundation was set for them, so I could step away."

Haglund said regardless of the 0-9 season a year ago, a foundation was set by the kids' dedication in the weight room in the off-season. It's a different team, with a different attitude.

Haglund spent time as a strength and conditioning coach at UW-Stout after playing linebacker for the Blue Devils. He brought into the weight room a "different script," according to senior center Payton Brownell.

The script change has carried over into the August practices.

"I've been starting since my sophomore year, but this year is completely different," Brownell said. "Things feel different. This is by far the most fire a team I've played on has ever had.

"I'm pumped. I'm ready to go."