TWO RIVERS — After having their best season since the 1980s, the Two Rivers high school football team has sky-high expectations for 2023. Last year they won their first conference crown in 32 years and were one win away from Madison to play in the Division 4 state title game and as you can guess, this team is pretty hungry.
“I think we’re going to be dangerous this year,” said senior running back and linebacker Chase Matthias.
“We’ve been working the offseason like we’re the exact team we were last year and we want to get right back where we were,” said senior quarterback and linebacker Justin Klinkner
The Eastern Wisconsin conference champs are hungrier than ever after losing to state runner-up Catholic Memorial by six (20-14) in a level 4 matchup to end their season.
“We’re hungrier right away,” said head coach Kevin Shillcox. “We have a bunch of very competitive kids on this team and it’s what’s driven them to come back and get after it.”
Returning are major components of a team that averaged almost 44 points per game last year. Starting with senior QB Justin Klinkner who will likely hold every quarterback record at the school after this year. He threw for 34 touchdowns, completing 70% of his passes as a junior.
“He’s just like clockwork out there,” Shillcox said. “He’s like another coach. It makes my job out there so easy to have a kid like that out on the field.”
He’s losing his top wide receivers from last year, but the guys coming in to fill the void were his receivers in middle school.
“It’ll be just like we’re back in middle school,” Klinkner said. “We played all summer together. I think we got it back – the connections that we used to have. I think it will be fun.”
Then there’s senior running back Chase Matthias. He owns every running back after a stellar 2022 season. He rushed for over 1,500 yards and 31 touchdowns, adding 5 more through the air.
“He’s just a brick wall to bring down,” Klinkner said. “Not a guy you want to be caught (trying to tackle). He loves to compete. Loves to win. Just a guy that’s always out there for the team and always wanting to win.”
He’s not just good on offense. He’s also an all-state linebacker. He terrorizes opposing offenses. He had 117 total tackles on the year.
“I hope they’re scared,” Matthias said of opposing offenses. “They better be.”
“You’re probably going to get lit up,” Shillcox said. “He’s got a nose for the ball.”
With key pieces back and only one win away last year, this team has its sights on Madison.
“Everything in the world,” Klinkner said of what it would mean to make it to state. “It’s been a long time. It would be like that 32-year conference championship drought. I think it would be a big deal.”
The Purple Raiders host Bonduel on August 18 to kick off their season.