POWERS - Toss aside whatever preconceived notions you would have concerning a new program when it comes to the North Central Jets baseball team.
The Jets aren't a fresh-faced group learning to play the game, but rather an experienced and athletic group that expects to compete right away with a talented pitching staff and kids who can hit.
Kyle Durow will coach the first-year Jets baseball program and he carries some experience, having coached the Menominee Legion team from 2002-05. He also previously coached in the Babe Ruth League.
The Jets will have a beautiful ball field in Hermansville to call home as soon as it's ready to play on. Durow said that was thanks to Chip Polfus who raised much of the money for field renovation himself.
"Once baseball got pushed through in October, Chip Polfus has done wonders to get it started up. He fundraised about 8-9 thousand dollars himself, which is amazing," said Durow. "he went door to door asking for donations, and didn't have help.
"We haven't got on the field yet. It looks promising when you drive by it, but the frost is still coming up. When it comes up, it turns to muck and has to dry out."
April 21 - Gladstone; April 24 - Menominee Legion; April 28 - @ Stephenson; April 30 - Marquette.
May 7 - Norway (DH); May 10 - @ Norway; May 12 - Superior Central (DH); May 14 - @ Menominee Legion; May 16 - Stephenson; May 20 - Niagara, Wis.; May 22 - @Marquette.
There's already a strong buzz around the program, which has been years in the making.
"For a while now, people have been knocking on my classroom door asking if I have extra hats to sell," said Durow. "That's pretty cool."
For now, the Jets are stuck indoors, doing pitching and hitting drills, but Durow still has a solid idea of what he has.
Senior Tyler Polfus will head up the pitching staff along with classmates Eric Prestay and Andrew Estrada, and freshmen Dawson Bilski, Bobby Kleiman and Tyler Bray.
"Tyler Polfus is a real good pitcher, but they're all solid," said Durow. "In past years where I've coached, you usually have one or two you're real confident with and your third and fourth guys are a little shaky. But this group is five solid pitchers, and if you can throw strikes at the high school level, you're going to win some ball games."
Nick Sexton and Zach LeBoeuf are the other two seniors on the team, and Paul Nordstrom, Allen Pineman, Devin Wodrazka, Brandon Schultz and Dylan Robinson make up the junior class.
Prestay is slated to be the team's catcher, but other positions are not yet fleshed out.
"The positions are a little tough right now because we haven't been on the field," said Durow. "But the practices have been really good so far."
The team has no sophomores, but a large group of seven freshmen all hold promise. In addition to Bilski, Kleiman and Bray, they include Seth Polfus, Ryan Plunger, Zach Estrada and Tyler Bentley.
"The freshmen are solid baseball players," said Durow. "They're going to hold their own, also in pitching. They're really good pitchers."
When it comes to batting, Durow says he has solid hitters 1-7 in his order.
"Dawson Bilski has a real good swing, Bobby Kleiman, the Polfus brothers, they're all really good hitters," he said. "Our top seven should be pretty solid. We don't have too much as in power hitters but we have a lot of good contact hitters."
The Jets were scheduled to open the season on Tuesday, but that game has already been cancelled.
"We may play Friday at Norway, but that's up in the air still," said Durow. "Our first home game against Gladstone on the 21st is also going to be pretty iffy."
The schedule is littered with strong teams such as Marquette and the Menominee Legion team. Durow says the Jets will play anyone, and he expects to compete against everyone.
"We play Marquette, Menominee, all big schools, which I'm excited about, especially with me being from Menominee. Actually sitting in the other dugout is going to be pretty fun," Durow said. "I expect to be competitive in every game. I don't care if it's Marquette, Menominee, I expect to compete and shock some people around here."