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State runner up team hits the gridiron for the 2014 season

By Kelsie Hoitomt

GLENWOOD CITY – For a second season now, the Glenwood City football team will take to their new field after finishing as state runner-up in Madison with a 12-2 overall record and 5-1 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference in 2013.

The Toppers lost a staggering 15 seniors to graduation and will bring up seven in 2014 to lead their team of 43 players on the gridiron.

The Toppers are led this year by Sam Melendrez, Troy Hall, Todd Petersen, Jake Hierlmeier, Bill Norenberg, Logan Smith and Christian Smith.

Prior to suffering a collar bone injury, Hierlmeier caught several passes in the 2013 season as a starter and earned himself an All-Conference honor as a Defensive End and a 2nd team All-Conference as a tight end.

Norenberg ran behind two senior starters and collected over 300 years of rushing last year as well with more looking to be gained this season.

“We have strong leadership in our senior class,” said head coach Shane Strong. “They all know what is expected to succeed in the sport of football as well as in life.”

Gone to graduation however are the team’s top two running backs, Isaac Tuttle (2,200 rushing yards) and Jeff Kopacz (1,500 rushing yards).

Also gone from the starting line up is quarterback Nick Mrdutt (1,200 passing/rushing yards) and then the team’s four starting offensive lineman- Brennan Kessler, Donovan Fornal, Richard Ross and Skylar Peterson.

Despite the loss of 15 solid players, the Toppers will also gain the experience of 11 juniors who have been a part of the roster for the past two trips to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Of that junior class is Nathan Mrdutt who started as fullback in 2013 before suffering a knee injury that kept him out in midseason. He had 311 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

Joel Ormson was also active on the field as a sophomore with 14 games under his cleats as he was the starting center.

Both Mrdutt and Ormson alongside Nick Schone, Hogan Chouinard, Mitch Hurtgen, Damian Hoitomt, Brett Bazille, Cody Bonte, Tyler Owen, John Garland and David Hoffman make up the junior class of ball players.

Hurtgen and Schone have both taken snaps in varsity games and will look to be quarterbacks again this season.

Also returning to the team as sophomores are Tony Melstrom, Jake Logghe, Jake O’Meara, Allen Croes, Marcus Ullom, Joe Obermueller, Jake Wittmer and Spencer Peterson.

The largest class of players is in fact the freshman crew of 17, which includes Jake Nelson, Carson Strong, Jake Nadeau, Austin Curvello, Jake Kopacz, Collin Schone, Peter Hill, Quinn Taylor, Damian Kilty, Mark McNamara, Ethan Kahler, Marcus Hurtgen, Darian Multhauf, Spencer Oehlke, Carlos Perez, Brad Kessler and Kyle Myers.

“We will be very young at several positions,” Strong said of the teams slight weakness. “We graduated 18 starting positions out of 22 and because of that we will have several sophomore and freshman playing varsity roles sooner than we would like. We also lack the overall speed we have had in the past.”

Despite their strengths and weaknesses, the Toppers still have the same goal in mind.

“We focus on attitude, effort and representing our community, school, parents and program with strong character and work ethic,” shared Strong. “We have never talked about wins, championships, yards, points or any other statistic in the past. We try to focus on improving our fundamentals, playing the game within the rules of the game and conducting ourselves like men of good character as expected by our school in Glenwood City.”

Strong has been implementing those goals into the Topper team for six years now with an an overall record of 36-21 and a playoff record of 11-2.

He will be head coach for the team again this year along side assistants Chuckie DeSmith, Randy Ketola, Jake Score, Jon Mrdutt and Richard Croes.

Strong shared that in 2014, the Boyceville team looks to be a top contender for the conference title as well as Spring Valley as both teams bring back several solid players.

The Hilltoppers will play their first home game on Friday, August 22 against Necedah High School with the game time at 7:00 p.m.

Their next contest will be the following Friday (Aug. 29) at Frederic High School.