Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 25 Athens

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

The Wisconsin high school season kicks off on March 27th, the first day for regular season games.

Leading up to the opening week of games we will be rolling out team previews of high school teams all across the state and across all classifications, eventually launching our Preseason Power 25.

We will bring you a snapshot of what to expect along with top players and keys to success for that particular team.

Team: Athens
Preseason Rank: 25
2017 Record: 21-7
Conference: Marawood North
WIAA Division: 4
Head Coach: Bill Coker
Playoff Run: D-4 state champions
2017 Final Rank: NR
Returning Starters: 9
Returning Pitchers: 3




Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Marshall Westfall
WI Athens 2018 LHP Frontier CC
Klay Ellenbecker
WI Athens 2018 OF  
Guyler Luther
WI Athens 2018 RHP  
Seth Coker
WI Athens 2018 2B
Dakota Willemssen
WI Athens 2019 3B  
Connor Westfall WI Athens 2020 C


Last year, freshman Connor Westfall started at catcher for the Bluejays and really turned into a reliable receiver for this gifted pitching staff. He might not fit the typical bill of a "newcomer," but he's young and talented enough that he's still one to watch grow. Already standing at 6-foot, 185 pounds, the younger Westfall brother still has some growing yet to do and it could take him to another level offensively, even though he was another quality bat for the D-4 champs. Keep an eye out for the freshman to take another step forward in his development in 2018.


Not only is senior Marshall Westfall (Frontier CC) a bulldog on the mound, but he’s also a talented wrestler who’s placed third and second at state in consecutive years. The senior serves as the Bluejays’ No. 1, typically, and threw 77 innings last year and struck out 90 batters and maintained a lowly 1.90 ERA. He’s athletic enough to be the team’s shortstop, too, when he isn’t pitching.

But this battle-tested staff doesn’t have just one go-to arm, it has two. Senior RHP Klay Ellenbecker was tasked with closing out Athens’ state semifinal victory (one that Westfall started) and he started and shutout Independence/Gilmanton in the D-4 title game in their 2-0 championship clinching win.
Having the two of them back to bully their opposition in the postseason is critical to the long-term success of this team.


Head coach Bill Coker coached the Fighting Bluejays to a Division-4 state title in 2017 behind a group predominantly made up of juniors and underclassmen. Now, Athens gets to focus on repeating as state champs with dugout that’s almost entirely unchanged from a season ago, seriously.

It looks like batters one through nine will look exactly the same as last year, led by junior INF Seth Coker, the other first team all-conference selection Athens has in its squad. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Coker was the team’s best hitter last season, hitting .433 and slugging 629, and he was also 6-for-6 in the state tournament. He’ll be cushioned in the order by some capable bats, senior OF Guyler Luther and the Westfall brothers, as well as RHP/1B Dakota Willemssen. Luther was the team’s second-best offensive producer last year when he hit .392. The Bluejays had three other .300-plus hitters in their lineup in 2017: Marshall and Willemssen (both hit .370), and the freshman Connor (.329). It’s not crazy to think an additional year of experience and development could have this group putting up even loftier statistics on offense.

As good as their offense is however, Athens might be even better on the mound. Marshall, as mentioned earlier, operates as this team’s No. 1, and Ellenbecker is a sturdy No. 2. He won four games last year and finished with a 0.96 ERA for the Bluejays, en route to a second team all-conference honor. The senior Westfall and Ellenbecker make up one of the best D-4 duos in the state and Willmessen should be etched in as the third man in this rotation, a role he filled well last spring.

The 2018 edition of the Bluejays is going to be tested within their conference, though. They finished 10-2 within in the Marawood North last year, tied with D-3 Phillips who wound up sharing the conference crown with Athens. They, too, will return many of their key contributors a season ago which should make for a fun little rivalry in north central Wisconsin.


When you return a team like this, coming off a state title, the only thing you have to worry about is focus. Athens obviously has the proven ability to return to state this season, but it’s their work ethic and commitment to staying on top of the D-4 world that will ultimately determine whether or not they’re able to go back-to-back.

Coach Coker has his work cut out for him in that sense. He’ll need to keep the Bluejays focused and committed all year long so that once the postseason rolls around, Athens is ready once again.

Find more information on the 2018 Fighting Bluejays below:

+ Full Schedule
Team Website
+ Gamechanger

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