A New Chapter Begins For WDP Football


Following back-to-back state championships, 3 straight D-3 title game appearances and a 28-0 record the last two years, a new chapter begins for the Phantoms football team.  And it begins with a new QB at the helm.

Matt DeBaker has enough pressure on him as a first-year starting quarterback for a two-time defending state champion.

That the West De Pere senior also has to replace the state’s best football player from last season makes this story a lot more interesting.

The Phantoms went 28-0 the last two seasons and won two WIAA Division 3 state championships. They had star quarterback Jay Tollefson on their side, which wasn’t always fair to the opponent lining up against them.

So now all eyes are squarely on the person expected to replace Tollefson, if that’s even possible. The thought of that was nerve-wracking at first, DeBaker will tell you. But as he has gotten more reps and practice time with his team, things feel more comfortable.

And includes some returning standouts to go with developing new talent:

It helps that he has some talented teammates coming along for the ride, including first-team all-conference offensive lineman Matt Bjork. The Phantoms also have some defensive standouts in senior linemen Brad Ambrosius and Tyler Pasterski.

There are more standout names that must be replaced than proven players to do it as this point, but the program has a way of developing new talent all the time.

The end result?  The Phantoms are once again considered the favorites in the Bay Conference.

Which is why it must be considered the favorite in what has become a very competitive Bay Conference. West De Pere hasn’t lost a league game since Week 1 in 2009, but teams such as Seymour, Marinette and Luxemburg-Casco are ready to give it a test.

“I think our expectations are higher because of the last few years,” Turnquist said. “I’m not sure if that’s unrealistic or not. We hope to do well, and we always talk about the other things that can come up, like the injuries.

“We are a target every week. The competition within the conference has improved. The competition to stay at the top is always tough. It’s tough to stay there.”

Best of luck to Phantoms this football season.


Tollefson named AP Player of the Year

Congratulations to West De Pere QB Jay Tollefson.

Jay Tollefson put up some impressive numbers while competing in three consecutive WIAA Division 3 state championship games.

In leading West De Pere to back-to-back state titles, the 6-foot, 180-pound quarterback was a combined 18 of 28 for 194 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 56 times for 326 yards and five touchdowns.

As a sophomore when the Phantoms lost to Reedsburg 34-27 in the Division 3 state title game, Tollefson caught a team-high six passes for 48 yards and a TD and rushed once for 18 yards.

West De Pere coach Bill Turnquist, though, said the most important statistic is the one that describes Tollefson the best.

“He’s a winner,” said Turnquist, who just completed his 37th season at West De Pere. “He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever had.”

Not only that he was the best player in the state of Wisconsin this year according to the AP.

For his efforts, a statewide panel of media members voted Tollefson the 2011 Associated Press Wisconsin state football Player of the Year.

Tollefson rushed for 1,358 yards and 25 touchdowns and completed 99 of 178 passes for 1,618 yards and 18 touchdowns. He completed his two-year run as a starting quarterback with a 28-0 record.

As prep writer Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette points out, Tollefson winning the award shouldn’t shock anyone.

Tollefson, like Walker did in 2003 when he had 1,023 yards and 13 TDs as a tight end and 17 sacks as a defensive end, made it almost impossible not to pick him.

He won championships. Put up crazy numbers. Played amazingly well in state title games when all eyes were on him.

Consider that in 14 games this season,

Whether it was on the ground or through the air, he accounted for at least two touchdowns in every game.

He had four games in which he had three TDs, three games with four TDs, two games with five TDs and one game with six.

You could make a strong case Tollefson was at his finest in the biggest of games. He threw for 125 yards and two TDs and rushed for 191 yards and three scores in a 53-0 win over Notre Dame in the semifinals.

He then broke the D3 state title game record and tied the record in any division with five TDs in West De Pere’s 39-24 win over Wisconsin Lutheran, rushing for 176 yards and three scores and throwing for 61 yards and two TDs.

Numbers like that, combined with what he’s done over his prep career, should eventually lead to a D1 scholarship. Especially when you consider 7 of the last 8 winners of the award went on to play D1 ball.

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State Champs!

A historic home on Wisconsin Highway 57 in the...
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Congratulations to the West De Pere Phantoms and head coach Bill Turnquist on winning the Division 3 state title.  As an alum it’s a great weekend to be a Phantom.

The Phantoms dominated Waukesha Catholic Memorial 35-0 in the WIAA Division 3 state championship game at Camp Randall Stadium on Friday, capping a perfect season and the best in program history just one year after falling short in their first title game appearance.

It’s the first championship in team history and the second team state title in any sport at West De Pere, following the state championship won by the baseball team in 2008.

“Everyone is emotional,” senior wide receiver/kicker Randy Hill said, his own eyes a bit teary. “We just worked so hard and it paid off in the end. Our offense put up big numbers and our defense played phenomenal.”

Jay “Tebow” Tollefson led the way on offense.

It certainly was a team effort by the Phantoms, who watched quarterback Jay Tollefson have his way on both the ground and through the air despite playing on a bum ankle.

Tollefson rushed 25 times for a game-high 150 yards and two touchdowns and completed 12 of 17 passes for 133 yards and two scores, turning in one of the best games of his career on the biggest stage.

Tollefson had plenty of help, with Hill tying a Division 3 state record with eight receptions for 95 yards and a defense that shut down the Crusaders’ vaunted rushing attack and limited them to 156 total yards.

A dominating defense that had six shutouts in the regular season rose to the occasion.

The defense was up to the challenge. Of Memorial’s 10 possessions, six ended in punts and one in a turnover. The Crusaders moved into the red zone just once, resulting in a missed field-goal attempt at the end of the third quarter.

Crusaders running back Pete Karczewski entered with almost 2,000 yards on the season but was held to 89 yards on 23 carries.

By the way Karczewski had nearly 900 in the previous four games.

Coach T summed it up best.

“It’s pretty special,” Turnquist said. “Not only for the team, (but) the coaches and the community and all the alumni that played before. They worked, but came up short. They came close.

“We kind of finished it today.”

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Phantoms pass the test

After winning their previous games this year by at least 34 points the West DePere Phantoms survived a tight game Saturday afternoon.

The Phantoms survived, pulling out a 28-21 win over Seymour in a WIAA Division 3 second-round game after going ahead in the final minutes on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jay Tollefson.

A nail-biter was expected at some point in the playoffs for a West De Pere squad that dominated competition during the regular season. It came against a familiar opponent in Seymour, a fellow member of the Bay Conference that lost to the Phantoms 38-0 in a season-opener in August.

But this was a different Seymour team. It was one that came out and threw the ball for much of the afternoon, using the versatility of quarterback Troy Rottier to give the Thunder a chance for an upset.

And were it not for that vaunted Phantoms defense the season may be over.

West De Pere and its vaunted defense did just enough to send the Phantoms into the quarterfinals, with senior defensive back Alex Bodinger sealing the win with a leaping interception on Seymour’s final drive of the game.

Things were uncomfortable for the Phantoms, but perhaps this will end up being a good thing during their hopeful run to a second straight title game.”I think it is,” Tollefson said. “Monday we are going to come out harder. We know what we have to do. We now know that every team can play with us. We have to come out hard every week.”

The big question going into next weekend’s quarterfinal game is will the Phantoms be without standout running back Zak Rottier.

The Phantoms (11-0) could have to go the rest of the way without standout Zak Rottier, who was injured on the third play of the game after gashing Seymour for a 27-yard run to the Thunder 11. It led to a 5-yard TD pass from Tollefson to Jordan Forrest three plays later.

Rottier was helped off and never returned. The senior has been invaluable at running back, outside linebacker and as a punt returner. Backup linebacker Mike Oudenhoven replaced Rottier and performed well, but the loss could have a significant impact.

Next up for the Phantoms is a home game against Kewaskum on Friday night or Saturday.

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