Witcraft takes over as Gillett goes to 8-man

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Coach hopes for easy transition

For the second time in as many years, the Gillett High School football team will have a new varsity head coach.

Jesse Witcraft, who worked his way up from the junior high program to a varsity assistant coach last year, will take over for Steve Andrastek, who resigned after accepting a new job that would interfere with the team’s practice schedule.

“I think the transition for us will be fairly easy because a lot of the kids I had in the junior high program are familiar with the offensive style that I’m going to run,” Witcraft said.

The Tigers, who went winless in 2016 with an 0-9 record, are also making the transition into the eight-man football game, joining the MONLPC-8.

The younger Gillett football teams have been playing eight-man football for a couple of years now, and the seventh- and eighth-graders Witcraft coached in 2015 and 2015 that racked up a 12-1 record over two seasons are now at the high school, meaning they are familiar with the system he will implement, which includes some up-tempo aspects.

Witcraft, 42, is joined on the staff by Athletic Director Mark Sparks. The JV and junior high programs will have new coaches, yet to be named.

Witcraft, who works with the HSHS hospital system, hopes that as practices pick up and school gets closer to starting for faculty and staff, someone will step up to join the coaching staff.

“When I got the position the beginning of July, it didn’t give us a lot of time to fill our staff,” Witcraft said.

The new head coach played football and was a member of the track and field team at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2011. He played professionally in Europe as part of the German Football League once his collegiate career ended.

“My background has pretty much been football,” Witcraft said.

Witcraft said he appreciated Andrastek’s positivity and enthusiasm last season and hopes to build upon that in his first year.

Practices began Tuesday for all high school football teams. Gillett opens its regular season Aug. 19 at Green Bay NEW Lutheran.