By Alex Strouf, The Denmark News
It’s officially football season.
Teams participating in the 2017 Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s fall season held their first practices on Tuesday, Aug 1.
That included the Denmark High School football team.
The Vikings held their season opening practice on Tuesday afternoon, officially opening the sixth season under head coach Chris Haese.
“We’re all ready to get to work,” said Haese.
The Vikings are looking to get back to the WIAA level four playoffs for the first time since 2014.
In fact, that’s just about all the team has talked about since last season ended.
That won’t come easy, though, as main positions now have gaps due to graduation.
One of those positions just so happens to be the most important one: quarterback.
Denmark is confident their replacement for two-time All-Conference quarterback Austin Bisbee is up to the task.
Junior Jack Satori is on pace to become the first Denmark High School male athlete in over a decade to achieve the feat of receiving 12 varsity letters.
The freak athlete is a solid choice for the Denmark quarterback spot. He has travelled all over the midwest for quarterback camps this summer. He’s speedy, strong, athletic, and has quite the arm, which allows the Denmark coaching staff to change up the offensive style a bit.
“Jack has turned himself into a much better quarterback than what we saw last year,” said Haese of Satori. “He attended a couple of camps over the summer. His footwork has improved.
We’re real excited to add more to the passing game…You have to play to your strengths.”
The previous three quarterbacks that Denmark has had, Haese noted, have been quick and nimble on their feet. Satori does possess that to an extent, but his arm presence will quickly change the recent identity of the Denmark offensive scheme.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, varsity quarterback of the Denmark Vikings,” Satori said.
“I’m definitely ready to throw. I’ve been going to camps all across Wisconsin this year getting ready to throw.”
Satori will have a solid group to which he will throwing. Returning is a fellow junior and All-Conference wideout from last season, Brady Jens. Joining him are the two tallest Denmark students, Zane Short (6’4’’) and Patrick Suemnick (6’6’’). Short is playing his first year of football, but was recruited to gain agility, experience, and obviously provide a spark in the receiving corps. Suemnick has not seen any extensive playing time at the varsity level, but his height is obviously attractive for any quarterback.
“This year these guys have the ability to be big playmakers,” said Haese of his wideouts.
The great thing about Denmark is an experienced senior group is going to lead the charge for the Vikings this season.
Kendall Vanden Langenberg is a senior that has been seeing a boatload of playing time since his sophomore season.
The senior linebacker and running back has been a leader for this team since day one of the offseason. Vanden Langenberg has been encouraging team workouts, among other things, to push this team to the next level.
“There’s definitely quite a few of these guys that go above and beyond,” said Haese of his senior group, which clearly includes Vanden Langenberg.
“When I was a freshman, I always had great upperclassmen to lead me and get me on the right track,” said Vanden Langenberg. “Now that I’m in their position, I feel like it’s my responsibility to lead these underclassmen.”
The senior will see times on both side of the ball once again this year, leading the backfield charge on offense and keeping his defense energized as a captain.
The defense for Denmark is returning most of their starters, as only three seniors were go-to starters all of last season. That allows for chemistry to potentially help success.
“I love defense,” said Vanden Langenberg, “Being with most of the guys on varsity for at least a year now helps a lot. Defense is going to be exciting.”
The ultimate goal for the Vikings is to host a home playoff game, something that hasn’t been done in a decade in Denmark.
“We have to work hard everyday. Everyday at camp you have to watch film, and do whatever it takes,” said Satori of achieving the ultimate goal. “We haven’t seen what it takes in a while, and it’s up to us to bring that back. That includes me, I haven’t been a part of a playoff run.”
“Hard work pays off eventually.”