DE PERE — During Friday’s scrimmage against Kimberly, West De Pere coach Jack Batten gathered his team and gave it a pep talk and then the team went out and played toe-to-toe with the defending Division 2 state champs.
West De Pere has won 89 of its last 98 games dating back to 2006 with three state championship appearances and won back-to-back Division 3 state titles in 2010 and 2011.
Much of the same is expected from the Phantoms this season, but one new thing is the head coach. Batten had been the Phantoms’ defensive coordinator since 2006, but now is leading the Phantoms after Bill Turnquist stepped down after last season.
Batten, who played under Turnquist and is a 1984 graduate of West De Pere, promises to bring a level of enthusiasm few coaches have. Even during Friday’s scrimmage, Batten was animated and trying to fire his team up.
“It’s fun being out here coaching,” Batten said. “The best two, three hours for me is the time I spend out here on the field. It’s a blast.
“I think if you do anything more enthusiastically, it’s more fun across the board, so that’s what I try and do.”
Batten knows what’s expected at West De Pere, since he’s been on the sideline since the Phantoms have gone on their impressive run. While players leave every year the Phantoms have developed a program that just continues to win.
Batten called the offensive plays during Friday’s scrimmage and it appears the Phantoms will be a more rounded offense than in the past, where Turnquist used a heavy-run approach.
Quarterback Beau Mommaerts played quarterback last season, but wasn’t the starter. He backed up Chandler Diekvoss, who during games would switch to wide receiver to get Mommaerts in the game.
Mommaerts will be under center from the start this season and will have weapons in receiver Connor Konshak and running back Dom Conway (901 yards, 13 TDs)
West De Pere opens the Batten era Thursday at home against Oconto Falls, and while expectations are high, Batten is talking about them.
“First and foremost we want to beat Oconto Falls on Thursday night,” he said. “We want to get better every single practice. If you do, everything takes care of itself. We have not sat down as a team with stated goals.”
If Friday was any indication, West De Pere should be formidable. These teams scrimmage every year and Batten said going up against the Papermakers is a great way to prepare for the regular season.
“They’re the most well-coached team in the state of Wisconsin,” Batten said of Kimberly. “Their players, super-talented kids. We see good fundamental football.”
The scrimmage was the dress rehearsal for the season and when asked what he saw from his players Batten talked like a seasoned coach.
“They’re willing to play physical, they’re willing to attack,” he said. “There’s all kinds of mistakes that we made and there’s things we got to correct but I think they possess physical courage and that’s a pretty good place to start.
“It’s just been a great scrimmage for us to get prepared for the season. There’s no false sense of security when you go against them.”
Notes: West De Pere finishes its season with four of five games on the road, including the final three away from home. … West De Pere’s nonconference game is at Merrill in Week 8. Merrill was 6-4 last season and lost to Ashwaunbenon in the Division 2 playoffs. … Mommaerts threw for 772 yards and 8 TDs this season.
West De Pere 2014 Schedule
Aug. 21 Oconto Falls
Aug. 29 at Marinette
Sept. 5. Luxemburg-Casco
Sept. 12 Shawano
Sept. 19 at New London
Sept. 26 Seymour
Oct. 3 at Denmark
Oct. 10 at Merrill
Oct. 17 at Menasha
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay