ELGIN — Numbers are up and that’s giving Wolfpack Football Coach Randy Eisenhauer a reason to be optimistic about the upcoming football season.
Twenty-one boys are out for football, mainly sophomores and juniors, as the Wolfpack seek to build on last year’s 2-7 record and return to the NSAA State Football Playoffs. The team has three seniors and two juniors on the roster, meaning new players at new positions need to step up.
Five starters return from last year’s team and a total of 10 letterwinners are on the roster as the team prepares for their first game of the season Saturday night at O’Neill St. Mary’s.
For the Wolfpack to be better this season, Eisenhauer said the team needs to get better up front. That means the offensive line where senior Joey Getzfred is the only returning starter.
“We have to be able to hold and maintain blocks,” Eisenhauer said. “We’re pretty young up front.”
Fall camp has been spent working on developing a line which can open holes for ball carriers to run through. Eisenhauer said the line isn’t set yet, but players showing promise are Carter Beckman, Layne Bullock, Dylon Lueking, Nick Anderson, Blake Henn and Ethan Hinkle.
“They’re all in the mix,” the coach said.
If the line gels, then the Wolfpack offense could be giving fans plenty to cheer about.
Back after one season as the team’s starting quarterback is sophomore Paiton Hoefer. He averaged nearly three yards a carry for a total of 191. Through the air he connected on 24 of 76 passes for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
The Wolfpack will have to replace running backs Conor Ramold and Cory Romej, gone to graduation. Eisenhauer said two sophomores expected to carry the load are Jack Wemhoff and Cale Kinney.
Wemhoff gained valuable experience last year, toting the pigskin 33 times for 143 yards (4.3 yards per carry). Kinney is being projected as the team’s fullback, weighing 153 pounds on a 5’8” frame. In limited action, he averaged seven yards per carry.
When the Wolfpack go to the air, Hoefer will have big targets in junior Colton Wright and freshmen Blake Henn and Nick Anderson. Wright averaged nearly 22 yards per catch. He finished with six receptions last year for 130 yards and two touchdowns (all team highs).
Wemhoff will anchor a defense which will have many new faces. Wright, Henn, Getzfred and Anderson will anchor the defensive line while Bullock, Hoefer, Kinney and Wemhoff will play as linebackers. Sophomore Austin Good will likely get the nod as starting safety.
“The defense needs to get better wrapping up and making tackles, Eisenhauer said. “We need to be more physical.”
One of the strengths of the team, he said, is how the players understand the game and focus on getting better each and every practice.
Wemhoff, who garnered all-district honors on defense, led EPPJ with 99 tackles (39 solo). Layne Bullock had 39 tackles (18 solo).
“They all seem to get along and are beginning to jell,” he said. “There’s a different vibe on this year’s team.”
The Wolfpack, like every other team across the state, has had to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eisenhauer said once the weight room was opened, the players hit the weights hard, reaching the goal of working out 35 times through June and July.
Because of the pandemic, the schedule of games remains up in the air. Each school has its own set of rules for handling the pandemic, meaning it’s possible that a game could be postponed or canceled as late as the day of the game. Eisenhauer said should that happen, every effort will be made to schedule another opponent.
District opponents are the same as last year: Central Valley, Chambers/Wheeler Central (CWC), Humphrey St. Francis and Riverside. All those teams should easily qualify for the state playoffs and could still be playing in November.
“The schedule does us no favors,” Eisenhauer said. “We’ll deal with what we’re dealt.”
Other opponents on the schedule are, in addition St. Mary’s, Boyd County and Osmond. The Wolfpack qualified for the state playoffs by beating Osmond on the road to end the regular season.
Joining Eisenhauer on the sidelines will be assistant coach Michael Becker and volunteer coaches Nick Heithoff and Ross Schindler. Player/manager will be William Heilhecker.
With a young roster, new teams and familiar foes on the schedule, and health concerns due to the pandemic, it could be a crazy year for the Wolfpack.
The season opener at St. Mary’s is scheduled to be played Saturday night, Aug. 29, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
The first home game will be Friday night, Sept. 4, against Boyd County.
ELGIN — For Wolfpack volleyball fans, the 2019 season must have felt like an anomaly.
Coach Tina Thiele-Blecher’s team, long one of the best teams in northeast Nebraska, suffered through a 15-loss season and a quick exit from the postseason. Nine of those losses came against teams who competed in the state tournament at Lincoln in November 2019.
She’s hoping for a quick turn-around this year with 25 girls out for the sport.
“Last year has made them hungry for this year,” she said. “Practices are spirited, lots of fire.”
A senior-laden squad will hope to improve on last year’s 14-15 record.
Seniors on the squad include Ashtyn Meis, Alyssa Burenheide, Kirsten Krebs, Skylar Reestman, Ally Selting, Harlie Bode, Marissa Preister, Theanna Dunn and player/manager Natalie Bauer. Dunn and Bauer are injured and unavailable at the start of the season.
Also injured, but expected to join the team hopefully sometime in September, is Krebs. Krebs is one of seven players back who saw time as starters last season.
“All nine (senior) girls are working hard and helping develop the team,” Thiele-Blecher said. “They’re making the team better, fighting for one of the starting positions …We’re only going to go as far as our senior leadership will take us.”
Players who started all or part of last season include Krebs, Selting and Bode, juniors Kaylee Ramold and Lexi Bode, and sophomores Taylynne Charf and Skylar Meis. Freshman who could work their way into a varsity jersey include Baylee Busteed and Ashlynne Charf.
“We’re fighting for positions, that’s huge,” the coach said. “These girls know volleyball.”
Plenty of experience returns, giving fans reason to believe there will be more wins than losses this season.
Charf is an experienced setter, having started as a freshman. Last year she recorded a team-high 307 set assists.
Junior Lexi Bode will move to middle hitter, Thiele-Blecher said. Last year, Bode had 148 kills at the net.
Harlie Bode is being moved from middle to outside hitter to help improve the Wolfpack’s attack.
She posted 95 kills and 16 solo blocks last season.
Krebs’ senior campaign should be a good one when she returns to the court. Last year she showed a strong presence at the net with 133 kills and 13 solo blocks and a team-high 357 serve receive.
Skylar Meis showed promise as a hitter last season and should only get better. Burenheide provides added height at the net.
“We have to be smarter with our attacks this year,” the coach said.
“We need to be more aggressive at the net.”
Ramold and Selting anchored the back row last year. Selting led the team in digs with 189, Ramold had 15. Selting is also strong in serve receive with 182 last season.
Preister, Reestman, Meis and Bauer will contribute where needed.
Busteed is expected to be the team’s #2 setter.
“Teamwork is not an issue,” she said about the team. “They will work hard, no matter what,” Thiele-Blecher said.
As has been the case in recent years, the Wolfpack start the season against tough competition. They will open the season on the road Thursday night, Aug. 27, at Lutheran High Northeast in Norfolk.
Other top teams ont he schedule include Chambers/Wheeler Central and Summerland which is now in Class D-1.
Joining Thiele-Blecher and assistant coach Sandi Henn in coaching the team will be Kim Zwingman, a one-time head coach for the Elgin High Eagles a number of years ago.
“We needed the website to be more manageable.”
These simple words spoken by Deputy City Clerk, Kristin Childers are in part what led to a big change in the city website. The deputy clerk contacted Pitzer Digital to formally end service and maintenance of the city’s website and begin the process of creating a new, locally managed site.
I didn’t have to look very far to find out more about the new website, as my son, Hunter Reestman, who has been employed as summer intern at the Elgin City Hall for the past three years was given the opportunity to design and create the new site.
Hunter admitted, “I had never created a website like this before, but I enjoyed the chance to discover something totally new. Typically, my daily duties consist of computing utility bills, sending out pages, mailing letters, answering the phone, and doing whatever else Kristin and Vicki Miller need me to do. With a big smile he added, “I guess creating and designing a new website was something they wanted me to do. “
Hunter began work on the website early this summer, taking pictures of Elgin’s businesses, churches, schools, etc. He completed his first design in about a week, but admitted he was unhappy with the end results and also learned it needed to be significantly different from the previous website for legal reasons, so he started all over creating a new one.
He determined the most difficult part of creating the website was determining the layout and finding the minute details that make it appealing.
To begin the process of designing the site, he shared, “I had to envision myself as someone who is unfamiliar with Elgin. I had to make the website simple, yet attractive. I knew it would be important to highlight Elgin’s touristic attractions, city services, and its city council meetings. I wanted the new site to be user friendly and allow a better experience for all. I thought it would be helpful to include access to various forms such as liquor license applications, building permits and handicap permits. I wanted the new site to give citizens the ability to pay their dog licenses, their utility bill or even their campground fee through the link “Pay My Bill.”
Today, the new website is up and running just as he had envisioned. Hunter concluded,
“The site will give residents and visitors the ability to see Elgin’s history, view its code book, view it’s meeting minutes, access various forms and applications, and pay their bills. Most importantly, it gives others the ability to see the beauty in Elgin.”
Anyone wishing to access it can simply go to www.elginnebraska.org or search Elgin City Hall and simply click on website tab. As far as the site designer, he is back in college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln majoring in accounting and hopes to return next summer to continue working at the Elgin City Hall.
Classrooms which have been largely silent since mid-March, will come to life again with the sounds of students as Elgin schools begin a new school year Thursday.
Elgin Public School, Pope John XXIII Central Catholic and St. Boniface Elementary schools will, for the first time in nearly five months, be buzzing with activity. Lockers will open and close, text books will be handed out again, lunch rooms will again serve nutritious meals and all will seem to be as it once was.
But, it won’t be the same. There will be one new school administrator and several new teachers.
Having been on the job since July 1, Michael Brockhaus will be busy as superintendent at Elgin Public. Coming to Elgin from Sidney where he served as a principal, this will be his first school year as a superintendent, replacing Dan Polk who served in that capacity for the past eight years.
New teachers at Elgin Public this fall are Brandon Callahan and Haley Guenther.
Callahan will teach social studies, filling the position previously held by Trey Rossman. Guenther will teach Spanish.
All visitors to EPS are required to wear a mask.
No students should arrive at the school before 7:45 a.m.
At Pope John, Christiana Koeppe will teach music, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Rachel Becker.
At St. Boniface Elementary, Taylor Borer will teach fifth grade, filling the position previously held by Scott Becker.
Then, there’s one other thing which will be in the back of everyone’s mind (parents, students and school personnel) — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each school has taken every precaution to keep adults and students safe as the new school year begins.
As is customary, the first day of school will not be a full day. Classes will dismiss at 1 p.m.
The first full day of class will be on Friday, August 14.
Whether one lives in town or outside of Elgin, all drivers should take extra precautions with intersections and crosswalks with the start of the school year.