BRUSSELS — When state Hall of Fame head coach Mark Jonas took over the Southern Door Eagles program this year, he brought a winning mindset.
“A new coach with new philosophies – he comes down and brings a winning spirit and culture to the team,” said Eagles senior linebacker Taylor Schaefer.
The undefeated (10-0) Eagles and Packerland conference champions earned a one seed in the Division 5 playoffs. The players bought into Jonas’s program early in the offseason, a midnight practice under the lights, actually.
“From there on we realized that it doesn’t matter what happened last year. It only matters what’s ahead of us and what’s in the present so – lets win.”
“It just makes for the coaching staff, when we’re a little older, that next day was a long day,” laughed Jonas. “It’s all worth it when the kids have that much fun on the football field at 12:01 (a.m).”
Southern Door has a potent offense averaging nearly 34 points per game, but it’s their defense that has been even more impressive. They’re limiting opposing teams to just 3.8 points per game on average.
“This defense has exceeded expectations all over the place,” said Jonas. “I could of never have expected that and I think all 11 guys out there want to go make an impact.”
It helps that they have one the best linebackers in all the state.
“He makes an impact everywhere he goes on defense and you can see it in the opposing team,” said the Southern Door head coach.
Senior linebacker Taylor Schaefer has been a one-man wrecking crew. He has 130 tackles on the year, 44 for a loss with 12 sacks. Jonas says Schaefer reminds him of former Bears hall of fame linebacker Mike Singletary.
“I’m like the 1980’s, just come downhill, fill gaps,” said the senior. “Linebackers, they lead the defense so you got to step up if you’re going to be a big player here.”
Schaefer likes to set the tone for his team once the game begins.
“Feels good knowing when you go out in the game, within those first ten plays you got to set the tone,” he said. “Hit somebody hard. Make it known that you’re there and they’ll step back a little bit.”
Jonas has coached for many years with different teams winning multiple state titles and this defense might be his best yet.
“Within the the top 2 or three for sure. If not, number one.”
This Friday Southern Door hosts Chilton at home in second round of the WIAA Division 5 playoffs.