The Howler - Revival Tour (Fall Sports Part 1) May 8, 2020

"The Return"

“You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” – Luke 12:40

The Howler has been in an almost year-long hiatus. For that, we apologize, and we plan to come out with a series of season recaps and special recognition of the Spring Sports. Some readers have patiently waited for the return of the Howler, while others may have not even noticed the absence of the Athletic Newsletter. Either way, it has returned! During this long hiatus, a lot has happened within the confines of the athletic department. This return sparks a thought of the most significant return yet to happen! The return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the one Christians patiently wait for over 2000 years.

We decided it may be nice not to have this devotion be about the uncertainty around us, but rather the certainty of what lies ahead. That certainty is of the return of Jesus, we know what he did on his first trip down, and it was awesome! He came, he saw, he conquered, and he saved! If this were baseball, Jesus would have hit for the cycle, going four for four on the dish. It is because of these actions that we have the gospel presented to us, and we know of our salvation. However, Jesus has unfinished work, he warned us throughout the gospels that the Son of Man would go away, but he would return. Much like the Howler this past year, we do not know when the return will happen. We do know for a fact if Jesus said it would happen, it is going to happen. We must be prepared for this return at any time in our lives. Whether that is while you read this Howler, a Howler in the future, or at any random time in your life, we must be prepared.

We currently live in uncertain times, but that does not mean our future is uncertain. We know what is going to happen, and with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we know where we are going. Instead of focusing on the uncertainty now, take time to focus on the certainty that lies ahead. Remember, Jesus, came, saw, conquered, and saved us all from the impending fate of sin, death, and the power of the devil. All of that is gone, and because of it, we can rejoice even more when we say, “Hallelujah! Christ is Risen, Indeed!”

Football (0-9 Overall, 0-7 Conference)

The football program came off one of their most successful seasons in seven-plus years; the program was looking to build on that success with one of the largest groups of football freshmen in over four years. The departure of eleven seniors looked like it would be a challenge at the very beginning, but the modified coaching staff was ready for it. The team not only experienced the departure of those seniors, but three different coaches hung up their whistles as well. Coach Dobler retired from 41 years of teaching at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, and with that, he decided to step away from football. Coach Franz decided the dedication to both the team and his job was too extensive as his career became more and more demanding. Coach Redlich, a new father, decided he wanted to spend more time with his little guy, Emmitt. With the departure of Coach Redlich, the program required a new defensive coordinator; Coach Z decided this would be a good time for him to step away from offense and return to his roots. Coach Z, when asked about the change, said, “I played defense in college for three years at three different positions and feel that I have always had a better feel for the game on the defensive side of the ball.” Since this change occurred, he promoted longtime assistant Ben Rennicke to the Offensive Coordinator position. Joined by new coaches, Coach Fischer and Coach Meulemans, the staff was ready for the new challenge of this 2019 season of Living Word Football.

Throughout the season, the Timberwolves faced many different challenges. One of the main challenges the team faced during the season was injury. Being a young team at the beginning, the team could ill afford damage happening to it, but each game there seemed to be some kind of significant injury or illness it needed to overcome. Before the season even began, Coach Z learned about senior lineman, Zach Graff, a mainstay on the offensive line for his first three years in the program would not be able to play that season. Zach stayed on as player-coach and captain for the program. In the very first game of the season, the team was without three of their lineman. This loss forced them to have to use some unconventional ways to fill out an offensive line, and many of the athletes did not leave the field. In the first game, the Timberwolves experienced a significant injury when Mark Schaefer went down with a neck injury. This unexpected occurrence shook the players, but they were able to continue. Still, the great news is Mark would later come back from this injury and play in two varsity games at the end of the season, making some significant impacts. Another injury that shook the Timberwolves football team in game three, even though it did not seem serious at first, was the loss of junior linebacker and utility offensive player Logan Werner. The good news for Logan is that he was seen back out on the wrestling mat later in the year. (Tune in later to a different Howler to learn about the wrestling season)

Within the first few games, the young Timberwolves could tell that they had work to do, but they were excited about the prospects of what the future could bring. Senior leaders Tate Rose and Michael Prasch both started the year strong by finding the end zone five different times between the two of them. Tate found himself thrust into the starting quarterback role; he was excited to show that he could play the position and take over the offensive side of the ball with new offensive coordinator, Ben Rennicke. As the year continued, the two of them worked well together and built off of one another. The year did not go without a hitch, but both athlete and coach grew together. Tate continued to show his ability to run the ball well, finding the opening and hitting it with ruthless aggression. Tate also developed as a leader for the team, personally telling the team on his own accord that he saw the potential of the young players and what they might do in the future. Tate finished the year with 294 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, 200 passing yards, and a passing touchdown; he also finished with 80+ total tackles and a defensive touchdown. Michael Prasch turned a big corner during the year, becoming the vocal leader and the example for the team to follow. He became the utility player on offense, sometimes going down to the offensive line, playing quarterback in a pinch, and finding his niche as the running back. Michael would do the same thing for the program on defense, he switched from safety to cornerback, and even into a linebacker. He would finish out the year as the only member of the team to receive all-conference honors, the coaches of the Midwest Classic Conference would select him as an At-Large 1st Team All-Conference Defensive Back. At the end of the year, Michael racked up 454 yards rushing with five touchdowns, with that he had 300+ yards returning on kickoffs and two touchdowns, and 103 total tackles.

These two were not the only ones to contribute on the field; Elijah Flowers became one of the main targets on offense and was the only receiver to come down with a touchdown. He also showed his reliability on defense by being able to shut down one half of the field as a cornerback. Freshman, Jaron Crowder, proved vital to the team as he took over the starting running back role when Logan Werner went down for the remainder of the season and would finish with 189 of the team’s rushing yards and a touchdown. Teams would think twice about running toward Jaron’s side on defense. Reid McGraw and Jacob Buske, both showed the ability to play at the varsity level as linebackers and offensive lineman. These two young men took on some of the most formidable defensive linemen with the help of Trevor Trepte and Gavin Lillyroot, showed that they would be cornerstones of the offensive line for years to come. Both Gavin and Trevor took significant steps forward by taking over important starting roles with the departure of John Schirger and Zach Graff. They were able to help get the ball rolling. Jason Steinmann and Matthew Fox became the two names that were often talked about on defense when it came to pressuring the quarterback as Jason recorded two sacks and two hurries, while Matthew recorded six hurries.

If you were a fan of the team this year and stared at the scoreboard, you missed out on the potential that the team showed. Not all players were mentioned within this short article, as it was difficult to summarize all the thoughts, stories, and comments Coach Z had to share. Coach Z summarized his thoughts by saying, “This team is primed and ready for the future, our new football-only conference should watch out for what they can do not a few years but right now in this upcoming season.”

Volleyball (18-11 Overall, 7-4 Conference)

Much like many other teams, you will read about in the weeks to come. Volleyball came off a program-best season in the 2018-2019 season. The Team made it back to the state tournament with a senior-heavy team. The Team would see one of the program best, Keri Walker, head to a Division 2 college on an athletic scholarship. It would wish farewell to one of the school assist leaders, Maggie Fox, and many others depart from the squad. Coach Dawn Walker knew coming into the season she would be coaching a completely different team from the year prior. She needed players to step up quickly and take over roles that were left vacant by a stellar senior group. She also needed to do this with a different assistant, Dani Blank, as long time assistant Rachel Cutler would leave the school and program to be married in the summer of 2019.

Coach Walker wound find some answers in the youth of the program, pulling fresh faces from both Junior Varsity programs. Critical pull-ups that happened came from these teams included juniors Makenna Krell, Evelyn Cassidy, and Maggie Gilbert. Maggie would prove to be an essential addition to the Team as she stayed coachable and did what each coach asked of her. She came up big during different games throughout the season as both a back row defender, coming up with a team fourth-best dig total of 149. Evelyn’s impact would be felt later in the season as Coach Walker continued to tweak lineups to find the best mix for the entire Team. At the end of the season, Evelyn was a mainstay in the back row of the Timberwolves defense, as she received over 200 serves throughout the season. Makenna became one of the “big guns” early in the year before a few nagging injuries derailed her momentum. At the beginning of the season, she proved to be able to power the ball down when the Team needed a point. At the end of the season, her presence was felt behind the lines as she nailed down ace after ace. Makenna finished with the second-most aces on the Team with 38.

Coach Walker would also find help within the sophomore class as Ellie Juergensen (one of two returners from the starting lineup last season), Lena Wessel, and Emily Axtman stepped in to fill some big shoes. Emily played the entire year as the Team’s libero, filling in for the departed Kelly Kreger. Emily began the year strong, finding places all over the court to be impactful. As the year went along, she would become consistent for the Timberwolves and finished the season with 109 digs. Lena came into the season with high hopes and positivity. She showed the hard work she put in during the offseason and why Coach Walker was more than ready to use her as the new all-around setter, something a bit different than the year prior, where Coach Walker used two different setters in her rotations. Lena’s presence was felt in her ability to get the offense going through both her setting and serving. She would lead the Team in both categories, finishing with 59 aces and 459 assists. Ellie Juergensen began to come into her own at the end of the season and improved on her freshmen year where she saw a large amount of playing time. By the end of the season, she became the go-to hitter whether, in the middle or the outside, her defense also proved formidable as she tallied 16 solo blocks. She finished the year with 207 kills (most on the Team) and 34 aces (third-most on the Team). This hard work and effort did not go unnoticed by the coaches of the Midwest Classic Conference. With this output of stats and presence in the middle of the court, Ellie received the nod as a 1st Team All-Conference Middle Hitter. She was the only Timberwolf to make it onto the 1st Team, but she would be the first to tell you that the Team’s overall performance far outweighed her personal goals.

The final two players, who were also the only two other players to receive all-conference honors, are at different ends of the spectrum. Freshman Elisabeth Young came on strong at the beginning of the year and proved to be a valuable part of the program. She would finish the season with 91 kills (third-most on the Team), 33 aces (fourth-most on the Team), 236 digs (most on the Team), and 284 serve receives (most on the Team). These stats, her hard work within the Team, and her ability to quickly bounce back from a mistake earned her a 2nd Team All-Conference nod as an Outside Hitter. Erin Plopper would not be outdone by the young one as she too received the nod as a 2nd Team All-Conference Middle Hitter. Erin’s presence was not felt in the middle of the court alone, she was all over the court and all over the stat book. She finished the season with 183 kills (second-most on the Team), 39 solo blocks (most on the Team), 182 digs (second-most on the Team), 272 serve receives (second-most on the Team).

This season proved to be difficult at times, but through the hard work of the girls and the outpouring of effort from Coach Walker and Coach Blank to put the girls in the correct position, the Team made another run in the playoffs. The Team finished third overall in the conference, and they would meet a familiar foe in the second round of regional play, Brookfield Academy. The crowd was in full swing that night; it almost looked like a sea of Pepto Bismol as they cheered on their Timberwolves in a pink out. This victory did not come easily as both teams played their hearts out, rallies going back and forth between the two groups. Both Erin Plopper and Ellie Juergensen came up big at different times throughout the match. Ellie found a groove in the middle as she was able to pound down 12 kills, and Erin sprinkled in 13 kills of her own from what seemed like every side of the court. The ladies came out victorious in four games against the Blue Knights, advancing them to their fifth straight regional championship. It was in the dimly lit gym at Dominican High School where the efforts for a 5-peat at this level would fade away. The girls played their hearts out and would prove more challenging to dispatch than the Knights expected. Although they lost in three, the girls were in on point, making a formidable Knights team work hard to win. This season came as a surprise to most, but the girls and coaches knew their worth and knew what they could do if they came together, confident in the one. With a very young core of girls returning, Timberwolves fans wait excitedly for the next saga of T-Wolf Volleyball!

Hall of Honor (Fame)

It's that time of year again to nominate a player, team, or servant leader to the Living Word Athletics Hall of Honor. We will be celebrating the 2nd Hall of Honor class at the LWLHS Golf Outing on Saturday, August 15.

Purpose of the Hall of Honor: At Living Word we seek to honor our Lord through sport. We strive toward establishing standards of excellence in our practice habits, physical and mental preparations, and competitive spirit. Timber Wolf athletics exist to augment the academic and spiritual development at Living Word by positively contributing to the school-wide goal of developing the total person in Jesus Christ. The Living Word Lutheran Athletic Hall of Fame serves to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and teams that exemplify these habits, preparation and service of our Lord through Living Word athletics.

Deadline for entry is Friday, May 29, 2020

Have any questions? Contact Tim Zbytniewski, at tzbytniewski@lwlhs.com or 262-677-9353 ext. 145

Athletics Announcements
Coaches Needed! Contact Tim Gast if you are interested in any of the positions available, listed below, at tgast@lwlhs.com
  • Coaching Position Available:
  • Assistant Volleyball Coach
Youth Summer Camps

Unfortunately, due to DPI's Safer at Home restrictions that surround COVID-19, we have decided to put safety first and cancel our 2020 LWLHS Summer Camps. We know this is disappointing to many of you who were planning on spending part of your summer with us at Living Word. It is disappointing to us as well. However, under the circumstances, we feel it is in the best interest of all involved to cancel this year’s camps. We hope that you will be able to join us next year at our Youth Summer Camps.

We will honor all 2020 gift certificates for the 2020-2021 camp season. Contact John Winter at jwinter@lwlhs.com with questions.