Greenfield football team shooting for WIAA playoff spot under Joe Koch

New coach likes team's work ethic

Xavier Copeland (8), who led Greenfield in rushing and receiving last season, is back to key the offense of the Hustlin’ Hawks in the 2014 football season.

Xavier Copeland (8), who led Greenfield in rushing and receiving last season, is back to key the offense of the Hustlin’ Hawks in the 2014 football season. Photo By Dave Haberkorn

Aug. 18, 2014

Although he realizes it will be a challenge, head coach Joe Koch is looking forward to his first year directing the Greenfield football team.

"They are great kids," Koch said. "They work very hard, and they do whatever you ask. In practice, they are making strides. Our goal is to be good by the end of the year. We're not worried about what we're going to be at the beginning. We'll get better and better."

Koch likes the advantage of having veteran performers in the offensive backfield.

Senior Xavier Copeland, who is 5 feet 8 inches and 165 pounds, is back as a running back after leading the Hawks in rushing (628 yards and eight touchdowns) and receiving (271 yards and two scores) and making first-team all-Woodland Conference East Division.

"Copeland is very good," Koch said. "He's explosive. He can play for any team I've coached."

Swider back at QB

Senior Jeremy Swider (6-1, 167) returns at quarterback after throwing for 926 yards and seven touchdowns last season and earning honorable-mention all-Woodland East honors.

"I like Jeremy Swider at quarterback," the coach said. "He's got some savvy. He's got the biggest learning curve because it's a totally different system and we're asking a lot of him."

The Hawks will run a spread option, so Swider will be in the shotgun.

"We go fast-paced, hurry-up, no huddle," Koch continued. "(Swider) has lots of checks and different things he can do. It's like the NFL. He can be a runner or passer; it's all built into the same thing."

Koch also is happy with sophomore running back Mark Swider (5-8, 165), who he said is tough and athletic.

The defense will be paced by senior inside linebacker Matt Braatz (6-0, 212), another first-team all-division choice after pacing the Hawks with 60 tackles last season.

Also back are senior outside linebacker Dominic Hagenkord (6-3, 225) and senior defensive back Joey Badora (6-0, 167), both of whom made honorable mention all-division, as well as senior lineman Drew Charles (6-3, 225).

"Hagenkord is very athletic on defense," Koch said. "He's long and rangy, very smart. Badora is very athletic, and Charles is long and athletic as well. Right now, they're probably going to have to play both ways, but we're hoping to develop some other guys so they don't have to do that."

Rockets the favorite

Koch said South Milwaukee is the clear-cut favorite in the Woodland East this season and Brown Deer should be another strong contender because of dynamic quarterback Zack Baun, a strong and fast player who is also a track standout.

After that will come Greenfield, Whitnall and Cudahy.

"We're trying to find out where we are in the pecking order," Koch said.

Still, Koch firmly believes the Hawks will contend for the WIAA playoffs this season.

"I will not sell us short," he said. "I believe we will make the playoffs this year. I feel that strongly about our staff and our kids. By the end of the year, we will make it interesting."

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