Area Football Teams Prepare for Season Openers
Crivitz High School held a football scrimmage Friday afternoon that welcomed Wausaukee, Northern Elite, Florence, Three Lakes and Laona/Wabeno. The teams competed against one another in rotating fashion of offensive and defensive with 15 play intervals.
The Crivitz Wolverines will have an exceptionally new look to them, especially on offense. Crivitz has ten starters from last year's offense that will need to be replaced. "We hope some young guys take advantage of the opportunity in front of them and step up to the plate," Coach Matt Bernier said of the team's youth. Senior tight end Tyler Allen is the only returning starter from the 2015 squad. "Travis Kudick will be stepping into the quarterback role, Leevi Maye-Thomas and Seth Kwiatkowski in the backfield and receivers along with Carsten Olsen and a handful of young linemen," Bernier said when asked of the players he's looking to step up.
When asked about the strengths of the team, Bernier looked again to the youth of the team. "Even though we're young, we had some guys get a lot of quality varsity time last year so they can look back to that a little bit." Bernier added, "We're short on numbers, as far as our backups we're going to have to rely on some really young kids. We're just looking forward to getting out there, flipping on the lights on Friday nights and working toward our first goal of making the playoffs."
The new-look Wausaukee Rangers will be without eight seniors off of last year's team including Eric Arndt, Quentin Ranallo, Russell Smith, Conner Kempinski, Nick Whitman, Ryley Carnot, Landen Wallace, and Joe McTrusty. "We may not have the speed and athleticism that we did last year but we will switch some things up to go with our strengths," Coach Grant Russ added, "Our strength inside and power running ability will make us more of a power team. Our ability to play keep away, without turning the ball over, grind out clock, and play field-position football will be our strength. Defensively I think we can be real strong inside."
The Rangers will look to Tony Rollo and Quentin Unferth to carry much of the load at running back while Matthew Delfosse with take over the reins under center. Jack Lacount, Cody Renikow and Dustin Westphal will be the main receiving options for Wausaukee this year. In the trenches for the Rangers this year will likely be Wesley Schaal, Sawyer and Austin Dunlap, Joey Rozivka, and Jason Jaworski offensively. Defensively the Dunlap boys, Delfosse, Jaworski and Aiden Shaw will see time on the line with the linebacking core of Rozivka, Rollo and Westphal behind them. Lacount, Renikow and Kyle Struve will look to headline the Ranger secondary.
Ben Laarman's Northern Elite Predators have also lost many talented players off of last year's squad, but the 2016 team looked good in Crivitz Friday. "I think we're being aggressive and a lot of our guys are playing tough. There's definitely some things we will need to work on improving but it was good to get those exposed now so we have time to get those corrected," Laarman said of the team's performance Friday.
This year's team will be loaded with seniors for Coach Laarman's Predators, which will be much needed as they try to replace Offensive Player of the Year Hunter Kaldor and Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Rice. "We have five or six returning starters so about an average year as far as number of people we need to replace. It is usually a good thing to be senior heavy, I like our team and I like our lineup, it's just a matter of how well we come together as a team," stated Laarman. The Predators will look to Kaleb Riley, a returning first-team lineman to help replace Rice, and Alex Dumke to fill the quarterback role left by Kaldor.
Gillett Eyes Quick
Start to Andrastek Era
A new season and a new coach at the helm for the Gillett Tigers means a lot of unknowns. New head coach Steve Andrastek may be in his first year at Gillett High School, but he brings many years of experience with him. Andrastek played at and graduated from Denmark High School in 1996 and went on to play college football at Mesabi Range Technical College and UW-La Crosse. From there, Andrastek became the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Denmark High School from 2000-2001 and 2009-2010. Andrastek then became the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Green Bay West High School 2011-13 and 2015 while being the quarterbacks coach at Lawrence University in 2014.
The Tigers will be without the talents of first-team all-conference players Alex Zeitler and Leeland Kahler, second-team all-conference players Brian Zahn, Justin Osgood and Mitch Umentum, and honorable mention players Ben Taylor and Broden Bennin all lost to graduation. "We may be younger, and there may be fewer of us this year than years past, but we will measure our success on the growth of our team and the development week to week, not just by if we won a game or not but how we respond to the challenges throughout the season," Andrastek stated.
Gillett will compete with five seniors including Reilly Bains, Nate Hansen, Jon Hoeft, and Dylan and Grant Sexton. Ben Burt, Sam Davis, Nick Hertwig, Danny Myrick, Jesse Schaefer and Alex Young make up the six juniors on the Gillett 2016 squad. Much of the roster is made up of eight sophomores including Adam Anderson, Ben Frank, Hans Grover, Brock Herzog, Sam Lemens, Tyler Lockstein, Cole Long, and Joseph Powell. The roster is rounded out with five freshmen: Logan Block, Anthony Carroll, Wyatt DeVares, Wyatt Herzog, and Bo Krueger.
Gillett will open its season on the road against White Lake/Elcho on Friday night beginning at 7PM.
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