The Big Foot Chiefs are preparing to stay locked down for the spring football season.
The Chiefs won’t be staying in their own homes, however. They’ll be playing six (and, if head coach Mike Welden has his way, seven) games, nearly all of them from the comfort of their turf field.
Big Foot’s investment in all-turf athletic facilities prior to the 2019 season appears to be paying off handsomely already. Not only will Big Foot stay at home for five of their six scheduled contests (a trip to Edgerton is all that remains, and even that could change), but several other schools will be making use of the facility, as well.
“Milton is playing a game here, Brodhead is playing one or two as well,” Welden said. “Clinton is playing an afternoon game one time while we play the night game, and we are hosting several JV-level games, as well.”
Welden said the home turf advantage has already paid off.
“We haven’t had to miss a practice yet,” he said last week. “And I know for sure the last couple of days, most programs couldn’t get outside because even if the snow is gone, the field just isn’t going to be ready to practice on.”
The Chiefs, who surpassed preseason expectations by making the playoffs in Welden’s first year, are ready to ride the momentum of what Welden called a solid (albeit unconventional) offseason.
“Last season, which feels like two years ago, was a growing process for the players, for me, and for our coaching staff,” Weldon said. “We were all getting used to each other, and the players needed to understand my coaching style and expectations. As soon as that season was over, we were off to a great start. Kids were getting in the weight room, everyone had bought in, and then the pandemic hit.
“Our guys did a really good job of staying together as a program. When we were able to get together in the summer, we found that a lot of leaders had emerged. That helped us gain some numbers, because we’ve just got a lot of really good kids who are hard workers.”
Junior quarterback Basil Demco leads the way back for the Chiefs. Demco passed for over 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns with just six interceptions as a sophomore. Although his three top targets are gone, Demco should still effectively lead a strong Big Foot offense.
“Basil is one of our leaders,” Welden said. “Him, along with running back John Rouse, wide receiver Alex Schmitz and lineman Austin Clary have done a great job in that department. We lost some key guys, but we’ve also had a lot of guys working really hard to effectively replace them.”
Schmitz and Eli Greco join Rouse and Jax Hertel as key skill position players, while Welden said an experienced offensive line that returns four starters should have the Chiefs humming on the ground and through the air.
“Defensively, our strength is going to be in the defensive line and linebacker units,” Weldon said. “We don’t have a ton of experience there, but we have some really talented kids that are going to be counted on to contribute right away.”
The Chiefs will open play against Clinton on Friday. Although Big Foot has six games scheduled, the WIAA has allowed a seventh to be played, and the program is currently seeking an opponent for one more chance to hit the turf this spring.