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Ladies and gentlemen, with each passing week we get even closer to another new fall sports season. Therefore, this week I’ll be knocking out two school for my candid look at the teams. Again, I’ll have more formal previews coming your way soon.
First, Clearwater-Orchard. On the football field, this could be a very good team. Coach Jeff Shabram has had plenty of experience with strong years and the talent is definitely there to do it again. Lots of young kids saw the field last year. Creston Bertschinger is a natural leader and Blake Hoke, Chris Kester, Clay Thiele and Ryan Wilhelm will be leaned on as leaders now as well. They could surprise this year.
The volleyballers are a team of potential. They lost some big talent to graduation, but have plenty of gifted youngsters. JoCee Johnston is as good of a player as any and will lead the team all year.
Now, Elgin Public/Pope John. The Wolfpack, too, had lots of young guys on the football field last year. Injuries were a struggle, but it could bode well for this year. There may not be a better lineman than Liam Heithoff in the area and Hunter Reestman will explode statistically if he can get a full season on the field.
The volleyball team only has to live up to last season - the best season in school history. Coach Tina Thiele-Blecher doesn’t struggle to keep her team motivated and focused and when she has the talent that EPPJ provides, it means special things. They lost a few very good players last year, but Paige Meis and Grace Henn will take the lead while Allyson Wemhoff will be tasked with controlling the pace of the game.