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In Higgins we trust: Williams Bay football revamped, ready



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John Higgins, who gained 145 yards rushing last year and led the team in tackles with 84 in nine games, grew two inches over the summer. Mike Ramczyk.

Diehl
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August 15, 2013 | 08:51 PM
WILLIAMS BAY - When a kid is around 6-foot-2 inches tall and 200 pounds, that's pretty good size for a high school football quarterback.

Williams Bay had that luxury last year with Jake Sutter.

Well, the Bay grad starts his college football career at Carthage College in a couple weeks.

However, no worries Bulldogs fans, your next quarterback is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, and smashes opposing running backs in the backfield when he isn't throwing 40-yard bullets.

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That's right, junior John Higgins, a bona fide beast who will play middle linebacker and quarterback this fall, is taking over the Bay offense, and second-year coach Derek Diehl is ecstatic.

"With Jake going to college, you always look for the right fit to fill that role, and I'm happy to say we found him," Diehl said Thursday night after practice. "He grew two inches. He went to quarterback camps this summer and placed well. He has really flourished. People forget that he threw for 300 yards in a JV game last year."

Diehl said he can run, and the team will run the spread. Higgins had some punishing runs last season, but his throwing prowess has improved tremendously.

With Higgins, leading running back Jacob Clark and leading receiver Ryan Bonamarte all back, Diehl is excited about the explosiveness of the team.

Also, Diehl said Andrew Breen, a sophomore, has had one of the best camps he's ever seen.

The offensive line lost three seniors, but Diehl is confident because the line is mammoth this season. Four of the five starters tip the scales at 240 pounds or more.

The Bulldogs erased five years of pain and suffering when they snapped their 45-game losing streak last October, but that hasn't necessarily sparked interest in the program.

"Let's keep it in perspective, it was one win," Diehl said. "I am surprised we only have 25 kids this season. I thought the win would carry over. Once the win was over, it was done. We moved on, we're worried about the next thing, and the season is in front of us."

The Bulldogs have won one game since 2007, and Diehl didn't sugarcoat that this season is up for grabs for his young squad, which features only a handful of seniors.

The 2013 Bulldogs could either make the playoffs or go winless, it's still too early to tell, he said.

One thing is certain - the program is headed in the right direction.

"Rome wasn't built in a day," Diehl said. "The program is 100 percent moving in the right direction. Mike Coolidge has done wonders in support of the football program. Sports and athletics is changing here, but it's for the good. You can see it in the community. The basketball team will be good. Our younger kids are getting more skilled. The junior high will be in a tackle football league for the first time."

"We have big goals here. But the kids need to go out and just be kids. They don't need the added pressure."

For more from Diehl, along with the full Bay schedule and roster, check out Wednesday's Lake Geneva Regional News.

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