Odom, Skemp having breakout season for Onalaska Football

Hilltoppers confident they're better than 5-4 record

With star wide receivers in front of them last year, Onalaska Football’s Michael Skemp and Nicky Odom didn’t need to do much offensively. With Skemp out four games with an injury, the two ended up combining for only 25 catches.

This year, those Skemp and Odom have replaced the graduates at those wideout spots and are dominating; entering the playoffs, they’ve combined for 108 catches.

The 5-foot-6 Odom and 6-foot-5 Skemp are pretty complementary. Skemp has the downfield plays and red zone targets in traffic, while Odom uses his speed to do everything from jet sweeps to yards after the catch, and even a few touchdowns as a returner.

Skemp leads the wideouts with nine receiving touchdowns, while Odom’s got the team lead in catches with 63, tied for second in the state. It’s making him one of the biggest breakout surprises in Wisconsin.

“I did not expect anything like this,” said Odom, who has seven receiving touchdowns, a kick return touchdown, a punt return touchdown, and a rushing touchdown already. “I was expecting great things from [quarterback] Ayden [Larson] but nothing like this.”

“He’s just so fast,” Skemp said of Odom. “Once he gets around the edge, he’s gone.”

“With Mike, we don’t have to change a lot,” Yashinsky said of Skemp. “We’re going to throw it up and he’s going to go get it, go over the top of kids and run our base stuff. With Nicky it’s, what’s a new formation, what’s a new motion, new position we can put him in that they haven’t seen?”

The 5-4 Hilltoppers are a No. 7 seed this postseason. All four losses this fall were by single digits, which could be frustrating in the moment, but both coach and the players believe there’s optimism they can take from a season in which more than a few bounces haven’t gone their way.

“Little mistakes–those can cost us a game when we need it most,” Odom said. “We just have to keep on fighting. After a loss I think we came back every single time and won the next game.”

“The kids know we’re good enough. That’s the thing,” said Yashinsky. “When you’re close like that and compete with everybody, hang with River Falls, you always know you’re good enough to hang with anybody. It’s a mindset now of ‘It’s our turn.’ The ball’s going to bounce our way one of these times, and what better time than now?”

Onalaska plays at 8-1 Mount Horeb/Barneveld for Level 1 Friday night.