For months, TCC coaches have been drawing up depth charts and potential starting lineups for the 2015 season. The days of the projections are over. Practice started today for more than 700 high schools around the state, including the eight TCC teams – all hoping to be crowned league champion come Oct. 23.
Expectations are always high in Clinton and this year is no different, especially with the Redskins coming off three straight undefeated regular seasons and TCC championships. Plus, they have offensive juggernaut Mathew Sexton, an all-state performer last year, back in the lineup. He figures to be a focal point in an offense that tied a Tri-County Conference record for points last year. The Redskins averaged 52.1 points a game.
“We had 50 kids out for the first day of practice,” Redskin coach Scott McNitt said. “We had a productive day and look to improve each day leading to our scrimmage next week.”
The Redskins must replace quarterback Ryan Karapas but were a somewhat young team last year during a 10-1 season.
Morenci was the other team that scored at a 52.1-points per game clip. The Bulldogs had one of its finest seasons in years in 2014 and lose some key performers from that team. But, coach Mike McDowell welcomed 19 varsity and 18 junior varsity players to the mix today.
Whiteford hasn’t finished any lower than third in the TCC since Jason Mensing became the Bobcat coach. The Bobcats have a load of rushers on a squad of 28 – including 1,000-yard rusher Jesse Kiefer, Cody Kiefer (567 yards), Josh Beck (591 yards) and Jake Becki (267 yards).
“We’re very young on our offensive line and we must break in a new varsity quarterback,” Mensing said. “Today was a lot of instruction.”
The Bobcats had 53 players out today from ninth to 12th grades.
Erik Johnson has a new job – he’ll be teaching physical education and be the athletic director at Britton-Deerfield. But, he’s still the football coach at Summerfield. The Bulldogs won’t have Trent Schankin at quarterback as they expected, due to an injury. However, Levi Ladd has stepped in this summer and played well in Schankin’s absence.
“Skill position-wise, we have a lot of kids back,” Johnson said. “The biggest question is our offense and defensive lines.”
Marcus Hosman spent his first day as a head football coach and welcomed 32 prospective Britton-Deerfield football players to the mix. He was hoping for more.
“That’s not the numbers we were hoping for,” he said. “There are five to eight kids that spent some time with us this summer in the weight room, but they weren’t here today. We’ll have to figure that out and hopefully get some more players out.”
Those who are out, Hosman said, went through a productive opening day of pre-season camp.
“It was very exciting,” he said of leading his own program. “I’ve been preparing for it for a while now. We had a great time this summer. We have a good, solid core group of kids who have been there all summer, every day. I’m really excited to work with them.”
BD will spend the next 10 days figuring out who will be the starting quarterback – the choices right now are a freshman, sophomore and a junior – and figuring out ways to get the ball in the hands of Kolyne Suydam.
“He’s bigger, faster and stronger than last year,” Hosman said of Suydam, who ran for 639 yards last year. “He had a lot of good 7-on-7’s and some good camp time.”
Sand Creek’s Ernie Ayers is the winningest coach in TCC history with more than 160 league wins in 36 years. The Aggies are looking for their first winning season since 2011.
Whitmore Lake is coming off four wins while Madison is coming off a 2-7 season. The Trojans kicked off its season with a midnight practice as it hopes to end a string of five non-playoff seasons with the likes of Connor Mellon, Colby Weitenhagen and Gunner Rainey at the skill position slots.
Most TCC teams scrimmage on Thursday, Aug. 20 and open the season Friday, Aug. 28.