Greenfield first-year football coach Keith Ringelberg had no chance to avoid Greendale.
It didn't matter whether or not Ringelberg had stayed at West Allis Central, where he coached for two years, with the Bulldogs program moving into the Woodland West this year and scheduled to face Ringelberg's many friends at Greendale in Week 5. As it stands, the meeting will come earlier, when Greendale and Greenfield meet in Week 2 of the 2017 football season.
Ringelberg played at Greendale, served as an assistant there for 28 seasons and helped the squad become an offensive powerhouse that went to two state-title games. In his final year there, Greendale capped off the second of back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons, with son Josh Ringelberg putting up eye-popping numbers at quarterback and his twin brother, Jack, making plays on defense.
"I didn't intend to end up in the Woodland," Ringelberg said of his departure from the program three years ago. "I went to the closest possible nearby Greater Metro school and knew we didn't have to worry about playing Greendale. However, as time has passed now, I don't even know the guys that are there, besides the coaching staff. I know we'll have a good time that night, but the kids that I knew are gone."
Streeter back to QB
That game will be a crossover battle between divisions (both Woodland crossovers count in the league standings this year), but Ringelberg's Hawks will be seen as the favorite in the East. Whitnall figures to be stronger in 2017, and new arrival Milwaukee Lutheran remains a wild card after toiling in the North Shore against larger schools for years. But with several All-Conference returnees, the two-time reigning East champ figures to be the one to beat.
Returning are first-team All Conference choices Elijah Rosario (WR), Sam Streeter (QB), Rajveer Singh (OL) and Billy Pitroski (DB/LB). Streeter made first team as a receiver last year but switches back to quarterback this season, where he led the Hawks in both passing and rushing as a sophomore.
Streeter ceded the position to senior transfer Rayvon Bartlett, Jr. last year. Bartlett has graduated, but his sophomore brother, Omarion Bartlett, could be an intriguing weapon on offense in 2017, and Denis Boyko will also be a big part of the running-back rotation with Pitroski.
Jonas Woods, an honorable-mention All Conference choice last year, joins Singh (ranked 13th among the state's senior offensive linemen by Wissports.net) on a line that will be particularly strong, with DeAngelo Rosario and Ahmad Assad also part of the equation.
"I think our offensive line and defensive line is probably where our strength lies," Ringelberg said. "It's usually not the case; it's usually the other way around when you've got 15 running backs and 24 receivers, and not that we don't have that, but these lines are really good."
Former All-Pro at OC
Helping map out the offense will be Mark Chmura, a three-time Pro Bowl NFL tight end who helped the Packers to two Super Bowls and one championship. Chmura was on staff with Ringelberg the past two years in West Allis.
"I have a lot of input into (the offense), but it's more him than me," Ringelberg said. "We have a couple of different packages that I don't think they ran at all last year. I don't think the rest of the Woodland really runs them, at least from my recollection."
Ringelberg said the players know Chmura played in the NFL, but they may not appreciate just how good he was.
"I don't think they understand that he was probably one of the best tight ends that ever played at Green Bay, that he's in the Green Bay Hall of Fame," Ringelberg said with a laugh. "There's not that awe at all. All the parents are asking for autographs and getting pictures with him and the kids are like, 'Whatever.'"
Greenfield's football squad traveled to Whitewater for an overnight camp in the first week of practice, a maneuver that Ringelberg said greatly helped everyone develop chemistry.
It's been a crazy year for the program. Coach Shane Covington, who replaced veteran coach Joe Koch before the 2016 season, oversaw the divisional championship but left in controversial fashion, followed by the school uncovering fraudulent enrollment efforts connected to the football program.
Turning to Ringelberg should enable the Hawks to continue their winning ways regardless of circumstances.
"With what we inherited, which is a great team, we certainly aren't thinking anything less than winning that side (of the conference)," he said.