Experienced Tigers look much improved

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


ISAAC DIRKER, Howards Grove quarterback, tries to elude Chilton defenders in Friday’s scrimmage at HG. HG also scrimmaged against Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay West. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley ISAAC DIRKER, Howards Grove quarterback, tries to elude Chilton defenders in Friday’s scrimmage at HG. HG also scrimmaged against Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay West. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley HOWARDS GROVE – Bolstered by a wealth of experience and good numbers, the Howards Grove football team has high hopes for the 2017 season.

The Tigers are coming off a rough season (1-8 overall and 0-8 in the Big East Conference) but should be much improved this year. HG has 18 returning letter winners, including nine starters back on offense and eight on defense.

The Tigers have a 34-player roster which is up from only 25 last season. Also, the team had a strong off-season in preparing for the upcoming campaign.

“I am very optimistic for the upcoming season for a number of reasons. First and foremost, we had a tremendous off-season. We made some changes to our weight- lifting program and our players bought in,” said Tiger head coach David Schmid who enters his 16th season at the helm.


SAM STREGE, Howards Grove running back, uses his blockers to pick up yardage against Chilton in Friday’s scrimmage at HG. The host Tigers also scrimmaged against Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay West. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley SAM STREGE, Howards Grove running back, uses his blockers to pick up yardage against Chilton in Friday’s scrimmage at HG. The host Tigers also scrimmaged against Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay West. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley “We came into this season bigger, faster and stronger than we have been for a while.

“Secondly, our numbers are up this season. We have double digits in each of the four classes which makes for better practices,” said Schmid.

“Lastly, because of our low numbers many of these seniors have had three years of varsity experience. That has shown through this preseason as well.”

Schmid pointed out the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Numbers and weight room progress are going to go a long way for us as far as our strengths go,” he said.

“I guess I would say that a weakness would be we don’t have a lot of depth. We are going to have to stay healthy. While our numbers are better, we don’t have enough to sustain an injury or two and still perform at the same level.”

The returning starters on offense include senior tight end Eric Reinemann, junior split end Nic Koenig, senior quarterback Isaac Dirker, senior wide receiver Mason Valenstein, senior running backs Jack Peterson and Joe Black, senior lineman Kyle Wilkinson and junior linemen Jeremy Ramirez and Matt Schorer.

On defense, the returning starters include junior linebacker Dalton Free, Reinemann in the backfield, senior linemen Derek Stauss and Black, lineman Schorer and senior linebackers Peterson, Sam Strege and Trevor Nelson.

Reinemann was an All-BEC honorable-mention defensive back last season. He was second on the Tiger defense in total tackles with 38, including a team-high 22 solos. Strege led HG in total tackles with 39, including 14 solos.

Dirker led the Tigers in passing yardage with 1,273 and touchdown passes with 11 last year. Peterson was the top rusher with 441 yards. Valenstein led in receptions with 30 and receiving yardage, 452.

The coach said the offense will try to be as balanced as possible this season. The Tigers had a good passing attack but struggled running the ball in 2016.

Schmid mentioned the key players he expects to lead the squad this season.

“We have a solid senior class and I expect all of them to contribute to the success we have this year. Reinemann, Dirker, Peterson and Valenstein all put up good numbers for us last year,” said the veteran coach.

“Free, Koenig, Ramirez and Schorer are all juniors who started for us as sophomores and will be a big part of our success this year as well.”

The coach pointed out the keys for the team to have success:

“Avoid injuries, continue to adapt to the game plans each week and grow together as a team and family to where we place the team ahead of ourselves,” he said.

Schmid has high goals for the team – qualify for the state playoffs, win the conference, go deep in the playoffs and win a state title.

He expects a strong conference again this season. The BEC is entering its third season.

“Our conference has been tough since we formed the Big East. With 11 teams in our conference it is always a dogfight to win the conference,” said Schmid.

“Until someone knocks them off, I would anticipate Hilbert/ Stockbridge and Cedar Grove- Belgium to be at the top of the conference again,” he said.

Hilbert/Stockbridge and Ozaukee shared the BEC title last year, followed by Cedar Grove.


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