There is no shortage of passion for DeForest’s senior dual-threat quarterback, Trey Schroeder.
Schroeder took over the starting job for the Norskies in the midst of his sophomore year, four games into the season.
And ever since, Schroeder has led his team in total touchdowns scored, with at least 10 passing and six rushing touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. That type of play was enough to earn him honorable-mention all-conference recognition in the Badger North Conference as both a sophomore and junior.
But accolades are not what drives Schroeder on and off the field.
“I don’t get too wrapped up around that stuff," Schroeder said. "Team goals always come first to me."
Norskies head coach Mike Minick, who is entering his 20th season, knows what he has in Schroeder.
“He’s definitely one of our leaders," Minick said. "You can tell by what he does in the offseason, in the classroom, in our hallways, and at our school."
Returning first-team Badger North senior running back Evan Armstrong has seen Schroeder’s development firsthand, fulfilling the role at the helm beyond what most coaches expect.
“He’s very much a person that’s going to bring people up with him and lead the team in a positive direction,” Armstrong said. "He keeps everyone in the right mindset before the games.”
Added Minick: “It’s a lot of fun, because he’s a kid that responds to coaching and can take criticism."
The Norskies’ offense is run out of the pro set, with many run options available out of the shotgun formation for both the tailbacks and the quarterback.
Schroeder especially thrived last season, carrying the ball more than 90 times and reaching the end zone 11 times, tying Armstrong’s touchdown total on the season.
But running the ball from the quarterback position means more direct, brutal hits, as well.
“I’ll always try to get back up for my teammates as much as I can," Schroeder said. "It will take a lot to take me out of the game."
DeForest welcomes back almost 67% (16/24) of their all-conference players from last year's squad, with the majority of those players featured in the starting offense.
“It gives our team confidence," Schroeder said. "We’ve been at the varsity situation and know what it’s going to take to get to that next step.”
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The Norskies’ know they have an advantage in that a lot of senior leadership is returning.
“One big thing is we have really high football IQ,” Armstrong said. "Whether you’re a stud athlete or not, the IQ will show.”
But beyond the statistics and results lies an even greater pillar in the Norskies’ football tradition: community.
DeForest may be a small town, but its football community is large.
Kids start playing at a young age and the community rallies around the program, generously helping fund raise for many football related activities, including the renovation of DMB Community Bank Stadium.
“The stadium would not have happened without the community," Armstrong said. "It’s definitely one of the best stadiums in conference. The energy in the stands is through the roof, if there was one.”
Added Minick: “Our kids know at an early age what it means to be a DeForest football player.”
And that sense of community is carried out by each and every player in the program.
The word "brotherhood" is featured on the Norskies’ football poster this year.
“We treat each other like brothers and we always have each others’ back," Schroeder said. "We’re like a family."
DeForest will look to knock perennial powerhouse, Waunakee, off the Badger North throne.
After losing a 27-24 heartbreaker to the Warriors in Level 2 of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs last season, the Norskies are using that game as motivation coming into this season.
Said Schroeder: “I feel like we can build off of that, knowing we have a lot of guys coming back, knowing we can compete with them and knowing we can take that next step to get over the hump and beat them.”
DeForest has made the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons dating back to 2006, the longest streak in the history of the program.
“This year I feel like we have more potential then we have in a long time,” Armstrong said.