Fall sport season begins this week
The 2022-23 high school sports season began in Wisconsin on Tuesday of this week when football teams across the state began practice.
A Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association rule change meant that football practices began the same day equipment was handed out, which was on Tuesday of this week. Scrimmages against other teams can begin on Aug. 11 and the first games can be played on Aug. 18. The state playoffs begin on Oct. 21 with the state finals set for Nov. 17 and 18 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Three area teams, Arcadia, Blair-Taylor and Whitehall are coming off of playoff appearances in 2021.
Arcadia went 7-2 last season, finishing behind only eventual Division Five state champion La Crosse Aquinas in the Coulee Conference. Last season was the first year of a new Coulee that included longtime conference teams Arcadia, Westby, Black River Falls, Viroqua and G-E-T with the addition of Aquinas and Altoona.
The Raiders will begin their 2022 campaign on Aug. 19 with a nonconference game at Ellsworth.
Whitehall went 5-4 last season as they were 4-3 in Dairyland Conference play behind Melrose-Mindoro (5-2), Pepin/Alma (6-1) and Augusta (7-0). The Norse will have a major change this year, however as Tyler Bortle replaces John Kleinhans as the head coach. Whitehall’s 2022 season is set to begin on Aug. 19 at Colfax.
Blair-Taylor went 4-6 during the 2021 season as they made the playoffs despite a 3-4 Dairyland Conference record. They return several key players as their 2022 season begins Aug. 19 at home against Onalaska Luther.
Independence/Gilmanton and Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau will both have new coaches this season.
Todd Fischer was hired to replace Barry Schmitt, who retired following the 2021-22 school year. Schmitt had coached the team for more than 20 years, but took roughly a decade off before returning in 2020, the team went 1-13 over the last two years. Schmitt replaced Bruce Bowerman who went 0-9 in his only season as the head coach in 2019. John Zilla had several playoff appearances in roughly a decade as the team’s head coach before resigning after the 2018 season.
The Indees went winless in 2021, but are returning several players who have gotten experience playing varsity the last three years. Their 2022 season begins with a home game against Boyceville.
G-E-T has also seen some coaching movement in recent years. After 2023 Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee Jon Steffenhagen retired following the 2020 season, the team went 1-8 with Jeff Wiseman in 2021. Wiseman resigned and has been replaced by Paul Anderson, who spent several years as an assistant.
Anderson will look to get the G-E-T program back on track when the team’s season opens with a home game against Mondovi on Aug. 19.
Unlike past years, the football season is the first to begin in the 2022-23 WIAA calendar. Girls golf begins this coming Monday while soccer, volleyball and cross country will all practice for the first time on Aug. 15.