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The Assumption football team works on kickoff coverage and return during a recent preseason practice. The Royals open their season Friday at De Soto. (Photo by Paul Lecker/Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker

Zaleski Sports

WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Assumption High School football team did not win a game in 2019. The growing pains and patience of that young team started to pay off with experience last year, and the Royals hope it will grow even more in 2021.

Assumption finished 5-3 overall and 4-2 in its first year in the Central Wisconsin Conference Small Division in 2020 with a number of underclassmen carrying the load. With three seniors and a number of juniors that started a year ago, the Royals are ready to take the next step.

“We’re trying to amp it up with some different things there. We’re older, more advanced, and we’ve got to that point where we need to step it up a notch,” Assumption coach Jeff Sullivan said. “Take advantage of some things and not be as vanilla as we have been. With younger kids you have to keep things as simple as possible.

“We’re kind of on that upward trend where we’ve got upper classmen and we have a good group of juniors and sophomores, back-to-back classes, with eight kids in each. Only three seniors, just not a lot of boys in that class.”

The Royals return three linemen and all of their skill offensive players from 2020, including quarterback Jack Klatt, and running backs Nick Leberg and Reed Duellman.

Alec Sullivan, who played tight end, tackle and defensive line, was an all-Region 2 selection and a second-team all-Central Wisconsin Conference Small pick at fullback/tight end.

Leberg was a second-team all-conference pick at running back after running for 1,028 yards, while offensive lineman Kenny Golat was an honorable mention choice. Center Gunner Krause also returns after starting as a freshman.

Klatt threw for 251 yards and ran for 161 more while totaling four touchdowns, and Duellman contributed 239 yards and four rushing TDs.

Linebacker Joey Moyer earned first-team all-CWC Small honors as a sophomore, and returns to a defense that also included honorable mention all-conference picks in defensive back Ryan Shaw, lineman Kemp Ross and linebacker Cade Statz. Statz also was an honorable mention selection as a punter.

Junior lineman Dylan Zanders will look to see increased action, along with sophomores Manny Schultz (running back/defensive line), Mason Kubis (running back/defensive back/kicker), Brad Jorgenson (line), Adam Taylor (running back/defensive back), Adam Haasl (line), and Cal Birkhauser (quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back), and freshmen Bryson Drollinger (tight end/defensive end), Brady Golat (line), Joseph Johnson (receiver/defensive back), and Christian Statz (line).

“We’re going to do what we do, we’re going to run the ball and grind the clock, and throw a pass every once in a while,” Coach Sullivan said. “We’ve got some speed with Reed Duellman, he’s fun to watch and we can get the ball out in space to him.”

Sullivan said he expects Iola-Scandinavia, which went undefeated in the conference last year, to be in the mix again, but he doesn’t want to sell his team short.

“Top to bottom it’s pretty decent,” Sullivan said of the CWC Small race. “Iola lost a lot so we’ll see what happens there. We’re talking about a conference championship this year. There’s no reason to not go for that. Rosholt will be good, Wild Rose, Pittsville, Loyal’s always tough. It will be fun.”

Assumption opens its season at De Soto on Friday. The game will begin at 6 p.m., and as with all games both home and away this season, it will be live at

Assumption Football Schedule

Fri., Aug. 20 at DeSoto, 6 p.m.

Fri., Aug. 27 AUBURNDALE, 7 p.m.

Fri., Sept. 3 WILD ROSE, 7 p.m.

Fri., Sept. 10 at Pacelli, 7 p.m.

Fri., Sept. 17 IOLA-SCANDINAVIA, 7 p.m.

Thur., Sept. 23 PITTSVILLE, 7 p.m.

Fri., Oct. 1 at Rosholt, 7 p.m.

Sat., Oct. 9 WEBSTER, 2 p.m.

Fri., Oct. 15 at Loyal, 7 p.m.

(Home games in CAPS, at Lincoln High School)