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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Local Teachers’ Union Forces Out President

The President of the West De Pere Education Association resigned this week in the face of a “no confidence” vote.  In forcing this one has to wonder if it was the Executive Committee of the Association acting alone or on behalf of the majority of teachers in the district.  Here’s a copy of the letter he sent to union members.

March 15, 2011

Dear Fellow WDPEA Members,

I wanted to write to each of you personally and as soon as possible to let you know that I am no longer the President of the WDPEA. I also wanted you to explain how this came to be.

Late in the school day yesterday, I was approached by a member of the executive committee to tell me that the WDPEA Executive Committee was exploring a move toward a vote of “No Confidence” in my ability to lead our association as President. With the parliamentary procedures set in place by association bylaws I proffered my resignation. I know that there are some teachers in our district that are highly emotional, irrational, and full of anger about all that is happening in our state regarding the Budget Repair Bill. I have worked hard to communicate everything that all of you have needed to know in order to decide for yourselves where you stand, to express yourselves if you wished to, and to know where to seek out more information. When I agreed to be your Union President, it was because I felt strongly about taking care of all of our teachers and being a professional, wise, and respected voice in negotiating, especially for the young teachers. In trying to remain as professional and objective as possible, I did not agree to or endorse local demonstrations or marching on the Capitol.

Those who know me well understand the principles I have stood for my entire life. I have dedicated my life (and risked it, many times) to secure the freedoms of the citizens of this country and I strongly believe in the democratic process. It is not my way to spout hateful rhetoric or make a foolish scene at our state capitol. If that is what you elected me for, you were mistaken. I do not wholeheartedly agree with the manner in which the legislative actions in Madison were choreographed and as a result I have written professional letters to our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Representatives to let them know of my concerns.

I have followed the events in Madison very closely and learned a great deal about WEAC when I discovered that two days into this, they capitulated on the notion of making us pay 12% for our benefits and 5.8% of our pensions without trying to negotiate lower percentages for us. WEAC stated that all they wanted was to retain “collective bargaining rights”. Educate yourselves about whose best interests are truly being served by continuing the current process of “collective bargaining.” WEAC wants to continue to make it mandatory that we pay our union dues – this has always been about the union’s money, not teacher’s “rights”. In order to negotiate salaries and benefits, we are going to be successful only if we are professional, committed to our profession, and reasonable about the conditions of our employment. Aside from those that are trying to sway you in an emotional and political direction, we are employed by the citizens of West DePere School District. We are paid to provide an excellent education to their children, and these citizens are hurting from the beleaguered economy, perhaps even more so than we have been until now. We need to keep this in mind, as we proceed.

I arranged to have the meeting on Monday after school with our superintendent, John Zegers, to try to make sure we at West DePere were able to achieve the best outcome for ourselves in the upcoming contract negotiations. We are not in the same financial situation as some of these other schools, and Mr. Zegers has been and continues to be very, very open about wanting to work with us. He has recognized over and over that we have excellent teachers in our district, and has no plans for sweeping changes in personnel. In contrast, the Green Bay and East DePere teachers gave up pay increases and other stipulations and made the decision to lose these points in order to preserve their mandate to the union which includes dues for the next two years. They did not take the time to analyze their situation and their options thoroughly. As a group of individuals who daily encourage our students to make sound decisions based on fact and reason, I urge you to proceed rationally. (How do you say no contract is a better than a bad contract—tactfully??)

As of today, Brenda May is your Union President. She is an intelligent person with great common sense, and will do a fine job for you if you let her. We have the ability to come through this much better than other teachers in our area if we retain our open minds (“Don’t leave your mind so open that your brain falls out”—William F. Bennett) and think for ourselves.

Thank you to those of you who have maintained a cool head, common sense, and professional composure throughout these past weeks.


Stu Betts

Forced out for not wanting to take the “radical” approach of demonstrations and protests?  While I disagree with Mr. Betts about how the budget repair bill was passed and quite possibly with what was included in it, I applaud him for wanting to take the “professional” approach in showing his opposition.

It’s very telling though when a “leader” in the teachers’ union points out what WEAC was most concerned about.  It wasn’t about the increase benefits contributions, nope it was about what most supporters of Governor Walker knew.  The collective bargaining privileges and the ability to force collection of union dues from members by having it deducted from paychecks.

In the end Mr. Betts understood what was more important was remembering who teachers are accountable to in the end, the residents of the West De Pere School District.  He also understood the sacrifices residents of the district are making in the current economic situation.  As a graduate of the West De Pere School District I would hope the majority of the teachers in the district feel the same way Mr. Betts does.  But one does have to wonder, considering he was forced to resign because of his approach to and/or position on the recently passed budget repair bill.

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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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