Staying healthy crucial for Tiger gridders

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff

MICHAEL GRAY (81) and a host of Howards Grove teammates swarm a Chilton running back during Friday’s football scrimmage. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley MICHAEL GRAY (81) and a host of Howards Grove teammates swarm a Chilton running back during Friday’s football scrimmage. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley HOWARDS GROVE – If the Howards Grove Tigers can stay healthy and jell as a football team, they could be a force to be reckoned with this season.

The Tigers are a bit thin, with only 25 on their varsity roster, and have just four seniors but veteran head coach David Schmid is very upbeat about his squad.

“I am optimistic because we have had a good off-season and the scrimmage went well,” said Schmid who is in his 15th season as the Tigers’ head coach.

“Our guys were in really good shape and we were fortunate to not sustain any injuries [in the scrimmage]. We are young and made some mistakes that we are working on but also did some really nice things.”

The Tigers hosted a four-team scrimmage Friday which also included Chilton, Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay West.

Schmid pointed out the team’s strengths.

“We are coming together nicely as a family, the conditioning level has been impressive and the players have worked hard through this heat and humidity,” he said.

Schmid’s concerns are a lack of seniors and depth.

The coach pointed out the key players who he is counting on to lead the team.

“Besides Jack Peterson, who will play running back and linebacker, Donald Johnson will anchor our offensive line,” he said.

“Michael Gray will play tight end and defensive end for us as a senior. Also at defensive end is Joe Black who has been pretty explosive so far this season. He will also take snaps at fullback.

“Dalton Free is a sophomore who had a tremendous summer working out. We look for him to make an impact at linebacker and also at fullback.

“Our secondary will be a strength of our defense with Zach Gordon and Josh Scheuren returning at cornerback for their senior season and Eric Reinemann playing free safety,” said Schmid.

The other returning starters are Scheuren and Reinemann at wide receiver; Gray, defensive end; and Johnson, offensive line. Scheuren and Gray were All-BEC honorablemention on defense in 2016.

Peterson, a junior, will take over at running back for senior Jake Fritz who is sidelined for the season due to a concussion sustained late last season. Fritz led HG in rushing last year with 610 yards. Peterson played in three games and ran for 196 yards (5.0 average per carry) which ranked second on the team.

“Jake will be sorely missed. Jack Peterson had a tremendous off-season and looks to fill that position nicely,” said Schmid.

The Tigers lost last year’s starting quarterback Travis Stanczyk, an All-BEC honorable-mention pick, to graduation but they have two players with good potential looking to fill the position.

“At QB there is a nice battle between Nic Koenig, a sophomore, and Isaac Dirker, a junior. They both have their own strengths and weaknesses and have performed nicely in the scrimmage and during practice,” said the coach.

“We are young on the offensive line with one returning starter [Johnson] but the new players have filled in well. A lot of this year’s juniors played last season and have varsity experience. While I only have four seniors, they played extensively last year as well.”

Schmid said varsity newcomers Matt Schorer and Jeremy Ramirez have impressed him.

“Matt Schorer will start on the offensive line as a sophomore and has been impressive. Also, Jeremy Ramirez, a transfer from Kansas, has been a nice addition to our offensive line,” said the coach.

Schmid said the keys for the team to have success are to have no injuries, come together as a team and put the team above individual needs.

Looking at the BEC race, Schmid said defending champion Hilbert and Cedar Grove-Belgium will be tough to beat again. Cedar Grove shared second last season with Ozaukee. The Tigers finished 2-6 in the league and 3-6 overall.

Schmid pointed out the team’s top goals:

“Make the playoffs, win conference, host a [playoff] game and make a deep run in the playoffs.”

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