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.


Returning to state

Image via Wisconsin High School Helmets (www.mghelmets.com)

It took 35 years for Bill Turnquist and his West De Pere football team to play in a state championship game.

It took the Phantoms one year to get back.

West De Pere beat Appleton Xavier 24-13 on Saturday afternoon in a WIAA Division 3 semifinal at Papermaker Stadium to advance to its second straight title game.

It will play Waukesha Catholic Memorial at 10 a.m. on Friday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison seeking the program’s first championship.

After living up to preseason expectations and winning a fifth straight Bay Conference title, a second trip to state is just as sweet as the first for the Phantoms.

“It is, it is,” Turnquist said. “It’s just a special feeling because our kids have worked so hard. It’s good.” (Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette)

As a West DePere alum it’s great to see the Phantoms back in the D3 title game. Best of luck next Friday.

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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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High winds no problem as Phantoms roll

Not even Mother Nature could hold back West De Pere’s scoring machine.

Image via Wisconsin High School Helmets (www.mghelmets.com)

The unbeaten Phantoms made two big plays into the teeth of heavy winds early in the game and went on to blow away Little Chute 40-6 in a WIAA Division 3 first-round matchup Tuesday.
“Against the wind, I didn’t think I could do it,” West De Pere’s Jay Tollefson said.

The junior quarterback managed to cut through the southerly gusts of nearly 40 mph with a short pass over the middle to tight end Joe Hebert, who started the scoring with a 59-yard touchdown.

“It wasn’t a great pass. I’m not going to lie,” Tollefson said. “It was a wobbler, but it got it done, and he ran it in for a touchdown.” (Source: Green Bay Press Gazette)

Up next for the unbeaten Phantoms a trip to Bay Conference rival Seymour to take on the Thunder.

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