Cardinals plan to lean on ‘the Pacelli way’ in 2023
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT – The Pacelli football team enters 2023 with higher numbers than last season, thanks to a larger incoming freshmen class.
With a record of 5-6 (4-3) in 2022, Pacelli looks to build on that with a new group of players.
Head Coach Drew Nelson enters his 18th season as part of the Pacelli program and loves the change over of coaching different players every season.
“We have a good size incoming freshman class,” Nelson told the Gazette. “We’ve got some really good upperclassmen leadership this year that you can kind of already see transpire in the first half of practice here. I think we’re in good hands.”
Offensively, the Cardinals rushed for a combined 1971 yards a year ago, finding the end zone 25 times on the ground.
With Brock Birrenkott and Bennett Eckendorf graduating, the backfield is wide open for anyone who wants it.
“Brock and Bennett are two special kids. That’s kind of the Pacelli way too, is we’re going to look to run the ball first and set the tone,” Nelson explained. “I think you’re going to see a different gamut of kids in the backfield. We’ve got some kids, some athletes that we want to see run the ball.”
Nelson is a big believer in keeping the tradition of running the ball at Pacelli alive, and he said it’s been his main philosophy as a coach.
He says working hard in the trenches can translate to hard work in real-life situations in the future.
High school sports are about teaching and developing athletes. Nelson hopes to do that with this style of play.
Throwing isn’t out of the cards this season if the Cardinals are in a position where they can expose an opponent or if they trail in a game.
“If we need to throw the ball, I know that Van Order is capable of doing that, or whoever we have at quarterback this year.”
The coaching staff will get a great look at what they have at a scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 11, vs. Necedah at Goerke Field at 10 a.m.
In week one, the Cardinals open the season at home vs. Catholic Central on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m. at Goerke Field.