Presley Mackesey was having a tough day playing left guard for his seventh-grade football team against Waunakee. He had trouble trying to contain his defensive opponent from the Warriors. It was very discouraging. Then, his father Pat, the head coach of the team, offered some positive support.
“He pulled me to the side and said, ‘Just stay with it. You’ll get him next time,’” said Presley Mackesey, who will open his senior year Aug. 23 as an offensive and defensive lineman for the Monona Grove football team.
His father is no longer around to watch his son play football. Pat Mackesey died in 2015 after a head injury caused by a fall. But his father’s advice to never give up and stay mentally tough has never abandoned Presley Mackesey.
Pat Mackesey played football for Monona Grove and graduated in 1976. A player in the first year of the PeeWee football program in 1969, Mackesey continued to devote his time as a volunteer coach for several decades. He was a successful businessman and served as village president in Cottage Grove.
Monona Grove High School head football coach Brandon Beckwith can see how Pat Mackesey’s positive traits and his love of football have rubbed off on his son.
“Presley has done everything we have asked. He’s a hard worker and does things the right way,” said Beckwith, now in this fifth year as head coach. “He has a strong mother and has that attitude he’s going to do things the right way, because he knows his father would want him to. Obviously, his mom wants him to keep moving on.”
Presley Mackesey started playing flag football at age 5, and eventually participated on the Colts in the PeeWee football league. His sixth- and seventh-grade teams, both coached by his father, won 11 of 12 games over two seasons and captured league championships both years.
Presley Mackesey said he remembered the big smile on his father’s face after those seasons of success and the celebrations that came with them.
“Football brought us even closer, because we were spending more time with each other,” Presley Mackesey said. “On the field, he was coach. Off the field, I called him Dad.”
Four years after his father’s passing, the younger Mackesey still does things with the same gusto and enthusiasm, knowing that hard work will only lead to positive results.
“When I’m working out here (at the high school) or outside someplace, I think of him,” Presley Mackesey said. “I want to make him proud.”
As for the upcoming 2019 football season, Presley Mackesey said the team will be young and inexperienced, and that will be a challenge if the Silver Eagles want another successful run to the postseason. He predicts Stoughton, Oregon and Watertown will be Monona Grove’s toughest competitors this season.
“We only have 13 seniors, and there are a lot of sophomores that are going to have to step up,” Mackesey said. “The juniors have some work to do, but they will get there. We come from a great tradition at Monona Grove, and we’re going to be fine.
“Coach Beckwith said we are not an excuse making team. We are a team that’s going to get the job done. Last year’s team had a lot of natural talent, which is why they were so good. We don’t have that, but hard work often equals natural talent.”
While he will be playing on both sides of the ball, Mackesey said he prefers defense and the way it can change the complexion of games.
“On offense, you have to enforce order, and with defense, you can create havoc,” Mackesey said. “You can freelance more than you can on offense.”
After graduation, Mackesey hopes he can play football at one of the UW satellite campuses such as Whitewater or Oshkosh. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, he might make it as a successful defensive lineman for a NCAA Division 3 school. It also doesn’t hurt that Monona Grove has a longstanding tradition of winning the Badger South Conference and making deep runs in the WIAA Division 2 playoffs. With that reputation, college recruiters are going to be interested in the team’s players.
“Most schools know about Monona Grove, because it has been successful for so long,” Mackesey said. “We have the best coaches and the best defensive line coach in the entire state with coach (Ryan) Kleppe. He has taught me so much in the last two years.”
In the meantime, Mackesey looks forward to ending his varsity career on a positive note. His father may not be around, but his mother, Katy, will be an avid rooter of the Silver Eagles.
“Before I leave for school on game day, she says she will be the loud one in the stands,” Mackesey said.