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(AUDIO) Wisner-Pilger Football looking for success in 2017

(AUDIO) Wisner-Pilger Football looking for success in 2017
Courtesy/Nebraska High School Helmet Project

Team: Wisner-Pilger

Mascot: Gators

Colors: Green and White

Class: C-2

Head Coach:  A.J. Burki (1st season)

2016 record: 1-8

Returning Starters: N/A

The Wisner-Pilger Football team is coming off a 1-8 season, but has a new Head Coach in A.J. Burki. Burki says his squad is ahead of the eight ball when it comes to practicing and transitioning. “We are putting in a new system offensively and defensively. And really luckily we went to camp right before we got going with the season and so we’ve kind of been able to keep the ball rolling. The boys have done a great job picking up on everything we’ve put in thus far. And so I feel like we’re a little bit ahead of schedule from where I kind of expected us to be I guess on our first day. And so that’s a great start to our season where we can get the ball rolling that well.”

Burki says the Gators will run a 4-4 defense, and a pro set offense with a tight end and two backs, as well as a three back set once in a while.

Keegan Ruskamp is switching from wide receiver to quarterback. “Keegan Ruskamp has actually been our backup quarterback the last two years, which was when I came to Wisner. And the whole time he has played wide receiver cause we’ve needed somebody to give us another look and depth at that position. And so to be honest he’s kind of been a natural quarterback for us from day one. And so even though we’ve got a new guy back there and we lost Cooper (Von Seggern) we’ve got somebody that’s played the position so we don’t feel too nervous in having a new guy there just for the sole fact that he’s been playing quarterback as far as I know all four years of high school in some regard,” Burki said.

Junior Jayden Raabe will be back to anchor the offensive and defensive lines after getting injured last season.

Mason Dimon will play Center and Dylan Uhing will play Guard. Colby Heller and Jacob Borgelt are expected to play defense for Wisner-Pilger.

Trenton Liermann is also expected to see playing time for the Gators.

Wisner-Pilger plays four teams that made the playoffs in Class C-2 last season, including defending C2-3 District Champion Oakland-Craig. Burki says teams have to be at their best every week in high school football. “The biggest thing I think is football is kind of that interesting entity in high school sports where game one is just as important as game eight unlike, and I might be speaking incorrectly, but unlike all of the other seasons. If you’re not perfect at the beginning it’s okay because come district tournament time that’s when you need to peak…that’s when you need to hit your stride. And so what our district does for us in football is it’s a tough district. I mean there’s no games where you can look past anybody. You’re going to have to week-to-week compete at your very best.”

Burki adds the key defensively to competing with and beating the tough teams on their schedule is holding teams to as few points as possible, which involves not giving up big plays and forcing teams to drive the length of the field. And offensively the key is controlling the ball and lengthening time of possession.

The Gators open up the season at home against defending C-2 Runner-Up Crofton on Friday, August 25th.

Click Here to Listen to Interview with A.J. Burki

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