Bledsoe, Mathwig flaunt New Berlin West's talents
Complementary Vikings emerge on top as all-suburbans
New Berlin — The transition to a new high school coach can often be difficult, particularly for the seniors who many times spent the previous three years or more learning the systems of a previous regime.
Don't tell that to Dom Bledsoe and Chad Mathwig.
The New Berlin West duo flourished in its only season with first-year coach Aaron Mack and, as a result, both players were named to the 2010 NOW All-Suburban Football Team.
"It really was a good fit in year one," Mack said. "Both of their production skyrocketed with the stuff we put in and that's a testament to their football IQ and how coachable they are. A lot of times, when you bring in a new coach, the production goes down and that was not the case."
Not at all. As a junior, Mathwig caught 35 passes for 590 yards and nine touchdowns. This fall, his catch total was nearly the same - 38 - but his yardage total bumped up to 847 yards and his touchdowns to 14, tied for the best mark in the NOW area.
"Coach Mack brought in just what we needed, and that was the pass attack," Mathwig said. "It all came together quicker than I thought it would. We worked hard in the summer. We knew that with coach Mack coming in, he was going to let us throw the ball. We really focused on our timing and as the season went on, we focused on the fundamentals."
Mathwig scored at least one touchdown in all but three games, and had two three-touchdown efforts: a six-catch, 109-yard game against Cudahy, and a monstrous six-catch, 151-yard performance against crosstown rival New Berlin Eisenhower.
Favorite in the endzone
The giant 6-foot-6-inch, 210-pound target was understandably a favorite of Bledsoe's in the red zone, but this fall Mathwig worked on other skills like yards after the catch and blocking.
"The biggest thing is his ability to affect the game with or without the football in his hands," Mack said. "There is not a (coach) in our league that played us this year whose first thought wasn't, 'We have to stop No. 9.'
"I truly felt that he was more than just a big target. That was his strength, but there were times when he'd catch and carry the football on a big third-down catch. It wasn't just, 'Throw it up to the big 6-6 kid.' He became a true football player by the end of the year."
Mathwig also earned first-team all-Woodland Blue Division honors and was an honorable mention all-state selection by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association. He is receiving interest from several Division II colleges, including Minnesota State-Mankato, where he is taking an official visit in early December. Mathwig, also a star basketball player at West, is also deciding between playing basketball or football in college.
"I think I have a better shot at football because of my frame," Mathwig said. "There are not a lot of guys lining up at receiver at my size, but I want to play at the highest level I can play in either sport. Whichever sport I can play at a higher level in, that's the sport I want to play."
Tops in touchdowns
Bledsoe was also a first-team all-Woodland Blue choice after completing 123 of 225 passes for 2,211 yards and 28 touchdowns after going 110-for-160 with 1,514 yards and 15 TDs as a junior. His 28 touchdowns were second only to Franklin's Lance Baretz's 34 in the NOW area, and Baretz played three more playoff games than the Vikings.
Bledsoe threw only eight interceptions; impressive, considering the short period of time he and the Vikings ran the offense.
"He was a sponge," Mack said. "He wanted more and more information every day. He wanted it all. He's student of the game, a gym rat that loves to be around the game, and his production showed that."
Bledsoe, who also rushed for eight touchdowns, threw four or more touchdown passes in four games, including five TD efforts in wins over Cudahy and Eisenhower. He passed for a season-high 347 yards in a loss against Pewaukee and was nearly perfect (12 of 16; 296 yards) against Eisenhower.
"He never was just focused on one receiver," Mathwig said. "He always tried to find the open man. It wasn't always just one or two guys. He was looking to spread it out. He had confidence in all of us to make plays. And credit to the offensive line for giving him time to do what he could do."
Did you know?
Dom Bledsoe is the third-ever West quarterback named to the all-suburban team since its inception in 1989, and the first since Jason Mau in 1996. Chad Mathwig is just the second Viking to make the team as a receiver, joining J.J. Tischer, a 1993 selection.
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