Cardinal Stritch boys golf coach Jeff Hess is not delusional.
Hess, in his fifth season, knows the Cardinals’ chances of unseating one of the top Division III teams in the state, Ottawa Hills, for the Toledo Area Athletic Conference title this season is probably slim to none. The coach does, however, say the Cardinals have a “great chance” to reach the D-III district tournament.
“These kids are not satisfied with their game,” Hess said. “It’s probably been the hardest working group I’ve had and the group that wants it the most. They’ve gotten better every match, every practice. There have been a couple dips here and there during the season, but they’ve worked their tails off and it’s paid off. The scores are really showing.
|Cardinal Stritch Catholic sophomore golfer
Alex Pocse. (Press photo by
“They do complement each other well. I can put any one of them playing with each other and they wouldn’t miss a beat. They help each other. They’re good teammates and a great group to coach.”
Sam Harrison, a junior in his third year on the varsity squad, and second-year varsity player Brandon Payeff return from a team that placed second in the TAAC last year behind Ottawa Hills. Stritch is 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the conference through Sept. 18, with its only TAAC loss coming against the Green Bears.
Harrison, the team’s No. 1 player, was a district qualifier a year ago and is averaging 43 strokes for nine holes this season.
“He’s been pretty solid,” Hess said. “He’s pretty consistent. He is playing in the low 40s, where the team needs him. He has the capability of shooting in the high 30s. He’s just a very consistent player, and he is a good putter. I don’t think any one part of his game outshines the other.”
Payeff, who is also a junior, has a 43 average for nine holes this season.
“He’s probably my hardest worker,” Hess said. “Up until his freshman year he never really played golf. When he focuses on something, he puts everything into it. He’s made himself into being a good golfer. He and Sam are really good buddies and they kind of push each other. Brandon has put in some low rounds this year, in the 30s as of late, that the team has really needed.”
The Cardinals’ No. 3 man is sophomore Jude Neary, who is averaging 45 strokes for nine holes.
“I kind of expected him to come in and play well, and he hasn’t let me down,” Hess said. “Jude’s good around the greens and he’s good off the tee.”
Sophomore Alex Pocse, the team’s No. 4 man, has a 45 average for nine holes and has started to play better as the season has progressed.
“Alex has been two different golfers from the beginning of the year to now,” Hess said. “He has stepped up his game to help the team out. We were searching for that fourth score and he put in some great scores in the last two or three weeks. He’s been a great find.”
Hess added that first-year varsity players Paul Schultz, a junior, and sophomore Kyle Zapadka have bright futures on the links.
“They are hard workers and really love the game,” the coach said. “They have a lot of potential. They both need to get stronger, and they know that. They have the capability to shoot low, but maybe one thing in their game, maybe once a round, they struggle and it kind of blows up on them.”
Hess said assistant coaches Brent Harrison and Chad Merren have been a huge help in developing the players.
“With their dedication to the team, it has really shown,” Hess said. “I definitely could not have done anything without their help.”