Originally posted on www.doorcountyadvocate.com by Jake Van Camp
Nate Neveau passes to Cooper Radtke. That’s been a familiar phrase around these parts over the past four years, most notably on the basketball team that’s made back-to-back trips to the state tournament.
But this fall it has been on the football field, helping lead the Oshkosh North Spartans to a 13-0 record and into the Division 2 state championship game against Kimberly this afternoon.
“‘Coop’ and I have been friends since we were little boys,” Neveau joked. “So I guess if I need it, I can always trust that he’s got my back and I got his back.“
None of that was more evident than during last Friday’s state semifinal victory of Menasha.
After Menasha had punted and pinned Oshkosh North back at the 4-yard line to start its second possession of the game, the Spartans went up top on the first play to Radtke, pulling down the Neveau pass and taking it for a 96-yard touchdown.
Perhaps the clearest play of their trust for each other during the Menasha game came on a 2nd-and-10 from the Spartans own 17-yard line. Neveau dropped back to pass and was immediately pressured and forced out of the pocket. As he scrambled to his right, Radtke broke off his route and angled up the field on the right sideline, where Neveau found him for a 30-yard completion.
“I think the connection that Nate and I have goes beyond sports,” Radtke said. “We’ve been around each other in sports and in life since like third grade, and I see him like family we’re that close.”
Radtke finished with four catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns last week, and leads the team in receiving with 648 yards and nine touchdowns heading into today’s game with Kimberly.
“We’ve played sports together year ‘round whether it’s high school basketball or AAU basketball or football and we have that chemistry. We’re always together off the field as well. We have that trust level,” Neveau said.
Coincidentally, Radtke is third on the team in catches with 22. Parish leads all receivers with 30 catches and Turner Geisthardt has 26 on the season. When the play breaks down or the team needs a spark however, Neveau knows where Radtke is going to be on the field, and he trust he’ll make the play when given the opportunity.
“I trust the other guys to make plays as well, but when you’ve got a 6-6 guy who’s the fastest guy on the team, it’s hard to not try and get him the ball,” Neveau said.
Head coach Chris Kujawa knows the relationship these two kids have on the football field and the unique way they find each other, and he said that’s a direct correlation of all the time they spend on the basketball court.
“They’ve been playing basketball together since they were in 2nd and 3rd grade, they just have a special bond with each other,” Kujawa said. “They are great friends, and that’s something that we can’t coach, it’s something that they just do. This whole group has a special bond with each other.”
Today the Spartans will be in its biggest game of their football lives, and when adversity strikes or the offense bogs down and they need a spark, look for Neveau to give Radtke an opportunity to change the game. After all, they’ve only been doing that for each other for the past 10 years now.
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