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.