It's not often a team can return both a player and a lineman of the year in the conference from two seasons ago into the fold, but that's exactly what New Glarus/Monticello will have to build around for the 2018 season, behind an experienced senior class and plenty else returning for another playoff run this year.
Last year's Capitol South football teams featured a good number of returning, experienced linemen, but Coach Eichelkraut expects that to flip this year towards the skill positions, citing several examples. NG/M is no exception, although they also will bring back some solid linemen as well.
"Last year we had a large senior class. There were a lot of solid, recognized players last year," he said. "It's nice going into this year having some guys that are returning."
Zach Feller and Adam Marty are two of the returning seniors, who won offensive player and lineman of the year awards, respectively, back in 2016 in the Capitol South. Eichelkraut said that plenty of the incoming seniors got playing time last year, which should carry over into this year as well. That goes for the rest of the team's returning classes too, since "at some times last year, we had six freshman playing," he noted.
Other all-conference picks include Nathan Streiff, Trent Sigafus, and Patrick Craker, who will be part of a core of players that will have to replace a good deal of the skill positions on offense and fill significant roles defensively. Contributions will come from all classes, including sophomores Darris Scheutt and Cole Walter (along with Streiff), juniors such as Connor Siegenthaler and Reece Rufer, and the afore-mentioned seniors that will make up the bulk of the players in the trenches this season.
While there will be some new faces, Coach Eichelkraut expects to be in the mix again, as it was a season ago when the Knights tied with Cambridge and Belleville for the Capitol South championship.
"It was neck-and-neck, and fortunately we were fortunate to emerge as one of the three," said Eichelkraut. Indeed, as Cambridge and Belleville played in an instant classic in Week 7, life atop the conference was competitive.
In order to get ready for the challenges of the season ahead, Coach Eichelkraut schedules aggressively for the non-conference season, starting with the Capitol North. "Those are (larger) schools. It's the first place we look," he said. "We also get to play Dodgeville, Mauston, and Iowa-Grant."
With five non-conference games against only four conference games, the Glarner Knights will have some interesting regional opponents again this season. First up is a road trip to Dodgeville to open the season, before NG/M welcomes two Capitol North opponents to the home field in back-to-back weeks. Lake Mills and Columbus will both visit New Glarus to wrap up the month of August.
In Week 4, the Knights will ship up to Mauston before kicking off conference play against Belleville on the road on September 14. Homecoming is a week later, against Marshall, before New Glarus/Monticello gets one last non-conference opponent in for the year when they play at Iowa-Grant.
Two conference games wrap up the season with a home game against Waterloo and a road date against Cambridge on October 12, the Blue Jays' Homecoming.
Hear from New Glarus/Monticello Glarner Knights head coach Jeff Eichelkraut on The Big 1070:
New Glarus/Monticello Glarner Knights - Capitol South
Head Coach: Jeff Eichelkraut (16th Season - 1999-2011 and 2016-2018), 77-65 Overall (2-9 Playoffs) - 6 Conference Championships
2017 Result: 6-4 (3-1), 1st in the Capitol South (Lost in Level 1 to Prairie du Chien in the Division 5 playoffs, 36-14)
Three-Year Record: 15-15 (0-3 Playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 5 First-Team, 6 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (13 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 20 First-Team, 15 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (37 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (5): RB/DB/ST Zach Feller (1st Team-RB in 2017 and 2016) (🏅Offensive Player of the Year in 2016), Sr.; DL Adam Marty (2nd Team-DL in 2017, 1st Team-DL in 2016) (🏅Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2016), Sr.; K/DB Trent Sigafus [🏈 WSN] (2nd Team-K in 2017), Sr.; FB/LB Patrick Craker (1st Team-LB in 2017), Sr.; S Nathan Streiff (2nd Team-DB in 2017), So.
Other Players To Watch: OL/DL Jeff Ace, Sr.; OL/DL Travis Krychowiak, Sr.; OL/DL Eric Segura, Sr.; OL/DL Jarrett Long, Sr.; WR/LB Trevor Gassman, Sr.; LB Cole Femrite, Sr.; QB/LB Connor Siegenthaler, Jr.; RB/DB Luke Judd, Jr.; RB/DB Robert Chenowith, Jr.; RB/DB Josh Wieser, Jr.; WR/LB Matthew Zierl, Jr.; OL/DL Reece Rufer, Jr.; S/QB Darris Schuett, So.; OL/DL Cole Walter, So.
BIG Games: vs Lake Mills, August 24; at Belleville, September 14; vs Marshall, September 21 (Homecoming); at Cambridge, October 12