Redeem Team Ready to Play. . . . .Covid-19 Says ‘Wait!’

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Joey Bonadonna, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Adviser’s Note:  Joey Bonadonna wrote the following football story prior to learning the Friday night season opener had been canceled due to Covid-19.  The info is still true for the Redeem Team.

Notre Dame Academy football has been one of the most prestigious high school programs in the area, winning two state championships since 2003. 

In 2019, that success came to a screeching halt. 

The Tritons finished 1-8, missing the WIAA playoffs for just the second time in program history. This was a much needed wake-up call for the program. 

“Success isn’t given. It’s earned,” Coach Mike Rader said when addressing the team at the first contact day this July.

Much like their Week 1 opponent, the Tritons want the 2019 team to be a “Ghost” of their former selves. Their journey will kick back up again this Friday with a tough test on the road against the Kaukauna Galloping Ghosts, a team that finished 8-4 last year, making it to Level 3 of the WIAA playoffs. 

The Ghosts also return seven Fox Valley Association all-conference recipients from a year ago, including short but shifty running back Hank Hofmann, who averaged a conference-leading 140 yards per game.  Along with Hofmann, Kaukauna boasts a massive offensive line, including 6’8 tackle Will DeGoey. Stopping the run will be key for the Tritons this week.

Many things are different from last year, starting at the quarterback position. The post-Glime era proved tough for the Tritons in trying to find his replacement.  The team had three different starters throughout the season due to injury. This year, after injuries in the past two summers, basketball standout George Kress makes his return to the gridiron and will likely be the Tritons’ starting quarterback against the Ghosts. 

“It’s been amazing,” Kress said. “Between my injuries and [COVID-19], this is the most exciting thing [for me] in a long time.” 

He also hopes to be able to make an immediate impact as one of the senior leaders of this team.

One of those 2019 starting quarterbacks is senior Hogan Anderson. However, this year he made the switch back to tight end. Anderson, who stands at 6’4, is one of the more physically dominant players on this Tritons team. 

“[Playing quarterback] was a huge learning experience for me,” Anderson said. “The season obviously didn’t go as planned. However, it gave me a tremendous insight into what goes into planning for opponents and preparing to compete at the highest level every day.”

Another player making his return to the field this season is senior wide receiver and cornerback, Will Drake. Drake tore his UCL in his elbow during contact days in his junior year and wasn’t able to play at all last season. 

He too is excited to get back onto the field. “It was a lot of work with me and my physical therapist,” Drake said. “I’m confident in [my elbow’s health] and its ability to get me where I want to be.” 

Drake was also the man behind this year’s team moniker, “The Redeem Team.” He cited the 2008 Olympics US men’s basketball team for his inspiration.

“We’re used to being good at football so we’re trying to redeem ourselves from last year’s subpar performance,” he added.

Hopefully the Redeem Team will get their shot. We’re in for a fun ride on this redemption tour.