By Jacob Mathias
After two disappointing seasons with consecutive 2-9 records, the Pacelli Cardinals varsity football team has started their 2017 season with renewed intensity.
Cardinals head coach Andrew Nelson said his team has worked hard in the off season to create new life for the team in his third year as head coach. The small school and small team makes the job a tough one but Nelson said the players are making due.
“We have a lot of experience, a lot of returners back,” said Nelson. “You can’t replace senior leadership…you see a lot of these senior leaders and a couple of the juniors grab some of these kids and say, ‘Hey, let’s go lift. Let’s make ourselves bigger and better.'”
Returning starters this year are senior Daniel Mitch, who passed for 651 yards last season, and junior Xander Schmitz, who led the team with 560 rushing yards and 220 receiving yards in 2016. Returning on defense is senior defensive end AJ Firminhac, who earned 65 tackles last season, and Schmitz, who tacked on another 37.
“The seniors that [sic] have played all four years, they know what to expect; they know what it takes to come out every single game,” said Firminhac. “Just having the experience is a good thing.”
Many of the Cardinals play both offensive and defensive positions, he said, adding an extra challenge to the Cardinals’ season.
“The second half of games usually get a little tough for us, but these kids are working their tails off every day,” said Nelson.
Pacelli will see its first live play on Friday, Aug. 10 at 9 AM on Goerke Field as they scrimmage against the Greenwood Indians, Westfield Pioneers and Marshfield Tigers.
The Cardinals kick off against the Dodgeland Trojans for their first full game of preseason play at Goerke Field on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 1 PM. Goerke Field is located at 1100 Minnesota Ave. in Stevens Point.
2017 Pacelli Cardinals Varsity Football Schedule
- Saturday, Aug. 19 – vs. Dodgeland, 1 PM
- Friday, Aug. 25 – vs. Aguinas, 7 PM
- Friday, Sept. 1 – @ Manawa, 7 PM
- Friday, Sept. 8 – vs. Wittenberg-Birnamwood, 7 PM
- Friday, Sept. 15 – @ Weyauwega-Fremont, 7 PM
- Friday, Sept. 22 – vs. Iola-Scandinavia, 7 PM
- Friday, Sept. 29 – @ Amherst, 7 PM
- Friday, Oct. 6 – @ Bonduel, 7 PM
- Thursday, Oct. 12 – vs. Shiocton, 7 PM