The high school football season kicks off in just one week and the 6 Sports Two-A-Day tour dives back into the CMAC with looks at Laingsburg and Pewamo-Westphalia.
The Laingsburg Wolfpack were co-CMAC champions for the first time in program history last season. However, the Wolfpack missed the playoffs despite finishing with a 6-3 record.
Laingsburg returns 20 seniors this fall but only six starters. Among the positions Laingsburg will be looking to fill is quarterback, where senior Ty Randall will miss the season after having Tommy John surgery.
Randall was a standout for the Wolfpack last season and even broke the school’s single-season passing record. Randall also plays basketball and has received Division I interest as a baseball player. He had to have the surgery after the baseball season this spring.
Laingsburg is looking to a pair of fellow seniors to fill his shoes in Lucas Matthews and Jackson Audretsch.
“They have all the intangibles that you look for of kids who are going to lead your team,” said head coach Brian Borgman. “It’s just simply that they don’t have the reps that Ty had who would have been a third-year starter. So having them having to mature very quickly is going to be the challenge for us. But I do trust that we have the right kids in the spots and we’ll be fine.”
With the personnel they have, Borgman may look to run the ball a little more this season with a speedy returning running back who also happens to be Coach Borgman’s son, Jack.
“It’s hard differentiating between him being your dad and your coach,” said Jack Borgman. “So you’ve got to take the criticism he gives you as not personal. It’s all for the benefit of you as a player.”
Brian Borgman is in his 22nd season as the head coach at Laingsburg. While coaching his son is a dream come true, he said it’s a deep-rooted love for the game that keeps him coming back every year.
“I’ve always wanted to share that time with my son but I just, I truly love the game. I’ve been involved in football at some level every year since I was in third grade,” he said. “It’s the love of my life, other than my wife. This is a game that just keeps me coming back and I just think it teaches young men just such amazing values.”
It may take some time for the Wolfpack offense to come together with all the new pieces, but the team is confident its defense will be strong all season. Laingsburg posted three shutouts in 2022.
“I think our biggest strength is probably our defense,” said Jack Borgman. “We’ve got a good, solid defense. We have a lot of fast kids and our passing defense I think is going to do really well this year.”
Elsewhere in the CMAC, the Pewamo-Westphalia Pirates were disappointed after a 6-5 finish in 2022.
While a 5-4 regular season was good enough to get them into the postseason for a 19th consecutive season, the Pirates fell 28-7 to New Lothrop in the district championship game.
It’s just the second time since 2010 the Pirates did not win at least a district championship (the other time was in 2020, when the team forfeited the district title game to Ithaca due to Covid-19).
The Pirates have a big senior class this fall and are out to prove last season was a departure from what has become the Pewamo-Westphalia standard. The Pirates won the state championship just two years ago.
“Last year when things didn’t quite go our way in games, we had a tendency to kind of lose our minds a little bit and not be able to work through it,” said head coach Jeremy Miller. “So that’s the big thing we’ve been stressing to them here, the physical, I think this team physically is really, really good. They just have to get right mentally and be able to handle the ups and downs of a football game.”
“Last year we just had inconsistency and just not enough leadership,” added senior Gavin Nurenberg. “This year we have so many more seniors I just feel like we’re in a much better spot.”
The small-town program’s development into a perennial football power is an impressive achievement which Miller credits to community values.
“We just have really great kids,” said Miller. “Parents do a pretty good job of holding them accountable and letting them struggle a little bit through things. So they’re tough for the most part. We’ve got tough kids and they’re dedicated, they know how to work hard. Then by the time we get them we just continue that and try to mold them all into a winner.”
Through decades of on-field success, Pewamo-Westphalia football is something kids in the area grow up with and dream to be a part of one day.
“I mean, everybody wants to put on the helmet and shoulder pads, come out and play on Pirate Field,” said Nurenberg. “It’s what everybody dreams of when they’re in second, third, fourth grade.”