DE PERE — The last time the Kimberly football team played a game it put on an incredible performance in the Division 2 state title game, thumping Oshkosh North, capping a perfect season.
That was then, this is now, and the Papermakers have to find a way to replace the likes of Scott Schreiber, Weston Guilfoyle and Matt Weinhold, amongst others.
But this is Kimberly, you know; the Papermakers reload as well as any football team in the area and expectations are what they are. Kimberly is expected once again to be a force, which brings added pressure.
“That’s a privilege, pressure is a privilege,” coach Steve Jones said. “Having that target on your back is where you want to be. You want people to have that type of mindset when they play you, they want to beat you.
“It’s a good thing. They shouldn’t feel that pressure, they should go out, have fun and compete.”
Friday, Jones got a good look at what his team will look like, at least early this season, as Kimberly scrimmaged West De Pere, a perennial Division 3 power.
“Saw a lot of really good things,” Jones said. “Are we where we need to be? There are obviously a lot of things you have to clean up. That’s why you scrimmage. The key is being ready next Friday.”
Among the positions the Papermakers have to find a new starter is quarterback. Schreiber was dynamic last year, throwing 26 TD passes and two interceptions. He also ran for 618 yards and 13 TDs.
Schreiber was an all-state receiver as a junior and switched to quarterback for his senior season, so maybe a first-year starter once again can do the job.
Right now, Austin Weyenberg has the job, but Jones only has that written down in pencil, not pen.
“He hasn’t played quarterback since eighth grade but he’s a good quarterback,” Jones said. “He’s a competitor, he’s the point guard on the basketball team. He’s got all those intangibles you want at quarterback.
“He’s also getting pushed by sophomore Danny VandenBoom. They are doing a great job in camp.”
Defensively, Weinhold was one of the best defensive linemen in the state and ruined a lot of offensive plays. Jones, though, thinks the defense will be fine.
“Looking at our defense, we have good players coming back at every level,” Jones said. “We have Connor McCormick on the defensive line, we have two linebackers and two in the secondary that have experience.
“They’ve done a good job leading our young kids. We have some kids step up on the defensive side of the ball, we should be pretty sound.”
While Guilfoyle led the Papermakers with 32 catches for 659 yards and 10 TDs as a breakout player, Kimberly should be fine on finding a big-play player. Junior running back Blair Mulholland replaced J.P Pereenboom at the end of the regular season last year due to injury and was able to gain 1,204 yards.
Friday, Kimberly didn’t explode against West De Pere, but score is not kept at the scrimmage. It’s more or less a chance to see how this year’s team responds to a game situation, at least early in the season.
“They’re well coached every year and they’re physical and that’s what we want,” Jones said. “Neither of us do much fancy stuff. We want to see where our kids are at and who can compete, who can play physical and I think we saw that today.”
It was a great tuneup for next week’s season opener at Oshkosh North, a game Jones is looking forward to playing.
“I think it’s pretty unique,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a good test for us. They have a great football team coming back. It’ll be fun for our kids. It’ll be a good measuring stick to see where we are early.”
Notes: Kimberly plays three of its first four games at home. … The Papermakers then finish the season with four of five games on the road, including the last three. … Kimberly’s game at Oshkosh North starts at 8 p.m. on Aug. 22. It’s the second game of a doubleheader. … Kimberly once again will be straddling the Division 1-2 line for the playoffs. Its division will depend on how many bigger schools qualify for the postseason.
Kimberly 2014 Schedule
Aug. 22 at Oshkosh North
Aug. 29 Hortonville
Sept. 5. Wausau East
Sept. 12 Appleton East
Sept. 19 at Kaukauna
Sept. 26 at Appleton North
Oct. 3 Wausau West
Oct. 10 at Appleton West
Oct. 17 at D.C. Everest
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay