FREEDOM — The two-seed Freedom Irish begin their quest for a state title this Friday night in WIAA Division 4 playoffs against Oconto Falls.
This year, the Irish only lost one game (8-1) and a key part of their success is because of head coach Clint Kriewaldt and senior running back Carter Kriewaldt. The father and son duo are preparing for one last run together to try and bring home a state title.
“It is pretty cool on a Friday night standing on a sideline and watching him break off some of those runs at times and then it’s kind of surreal, you think, ‘oh man, that’s pretty special right there’ and you think, ‘that’s my boy out there,’” said Clint.
Football runs in the Kriewaldt family.
“Ever since I was little, growing up watching my dad play, we were all involved with football and stuff,” said Carter. “We always had a ball in our hand. We were always playing catch around the yard – always doing football stuff.”
After all his father Clint Kriewaldt played linebacker in the NFL for the Lions and Steelers.
“It’s awesome knowing that your dad did something cool like that,” he said. “So you know you can always accomplish your dreams too. He’s a big leader for everyone.”
Clint fondly recalls those special NFL moments he was able to share with his family.
“My wife Jamie bringing them to training camp and visiting me and they’re riding around – he’s riding around in the golf cart with Jerome Bettis and Joey Porter on the golf cart,” said Clint. “I just remember how cool that was. Now you look, like you said, he’s 17 going to be 18 in December and man, time really does fly by.”
This is Clint’s second stint as Freedom’s head coach. It’s also his second job. He doubles as the Outagamie County Sheriff. When his dad returned, Carter knew he had a lot to live up too.
“I was pretty pumped, but I had this scared feeling in me that I knew I had to try to live up to what his expectations were and he’ll be there every single practice watching me,” Carter said. “I have to live up to it. It’s kind of scary but it’s fun.”
Carter has far surpassed his father’s expectations. There have been a lot of big plays in their time together, but the pair says it’s the little moments that stand out the most.
“He comes around, he just gives you fist-bumps, he says like, ‘dominate out there’ and stuff like that,” said Carter. “He gives us pregame speeches to get fired up.”
However those little moments will only last as long as the Irish do in the Division 4 playoffs. Next year, Carter will be suiting up for the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.
“I think we both know deep down that it’s coming,” Carter said. “We can’t let it end. We need to do it this year. This is our year (to win it all).”
“If he wasn’t going on to play (in college), I think I’d be a little more depressed maybe than what I am, but I’m super excited for the next chapter of his life.”
What better way to put the cherry on top of their final year together than to make it to Madison and have a shot at a state title.
“Conference championships, those will happen along the way. That’s not going to be our ultimate goal – to chase down conference championships. We want to get down to Camp Randall. We want to get down there on that turf and play,” said the Irish head coach.