August 05, 2014 | 12:59 PMBadger football coach Matt Hensler is entering his eighth season in Lake Geneva, and in each of his first seven seasons, his team has made an appearance in the playoffs.
Many of last year’s starters have graduated, and this year there will be a lot of new faces on the field, but Hensler still has expectations for a successful season.
“Tradition doesn’t graduate,” he said.
A younger squad won’t change Hensler’s season goals of qualifying for the state playoffs and competing for the conference championship.
It also won’t change the same option offense that he’s used in his previous seasons.
He hasn’t named a starting quarterback and said three student-athletes will compete for the job during practice.
Those competing are Isaac Ziervogel, J.T. Sulzer and Mick Borchert.
In the option offense, the quarterback will read the defense and make a decision on whether to hand the ball to the fullback, pitch it to the running back or keep it and run.
Taking the play calling out of the coaches hands requires a lot of trust, Hensler said.
To get to that point, Hensler and other coaches work closely with the quarterbacks.
“Most of the kids get a ton of reps in practice,” Hensler said. The coaches try to place as many different situations in front of the players as possible to prepare for whatever may come on a Friday night.
The quarterback position isn’t the only one where players will compete for starting spots, Hensler said.
With the younger squad, a lot of positions will be up for grabs.
The Badger’s season begins on Aug. 22 with a home game against West Allis Hale.
Hensler, a physical education teacher at the school, has 20 years of coaching experience. Before coming to Badger, he spent six years as the head coach for West Bend West High School.
Hensler also comes from a coaching pedigree, and his father, Keith, coached in Iowa and Mukwonago and has a career record of 236-104-3.
Keith, who has been named to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, joined the Badger’s last year as an assistant coach. The transition of adding his father to the sidelines was seamless, the younger Hensler said.
From the sidelines, the older Hensler “sees everything,” on both sides of the ball, his son said.
Having that kind of experience on the field, “It’s a security blanket,” the younger Hensler said.
He added that his father knows how to offer advice without stepping on anyone’s toes.
In addition to experience coaching, Hensler was the center for his high school and college teams.
He attended Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.
He joked that as a center he may have taken too many hits to his head. A former player, who happened to pass by when he made the joke, couldn’t resist adding his own quip.
The two exchanged a natural back and forth, and Hensler displayed his ability to relate to the students and players at their level.
“There are really good kids here, and they make it easy to get to know them,” he said.
He said when the players work hard, and the “players are totally open to the process, those are our best teams.”