STRYKER VARSITY FOOTBALL … (Front) Elijah Juillard, Jeffrie Pace, Jaydin Rethmel, Levi Barnum, Mateo Villanueva, Matthew Froelich. (2nd Row) Braxton John, Rustin Nafziger, Jacob Myers, Gavin LaBo, Jacob Cadwell. (3rd Row) Terry Wittenmyer, Owen Zachrich, Nathan Gonyer, Eli Capps. (Back) head coach Kent Holsopple; assistant coaches-Alex Grice, Austin Nickells, Duncan Cuykendall. (PHOTOS BY RICH HARDING, STAFF)
By: Nate Calvin
LAST SEASON: 1-7 overall, 1-4 Northern 8
HEAD COACH: Kent Holsopple (4th season)
LETTERWINNERS LOST FROM LAST SEASON: James Dixon-DL; Tyler Damms-RB
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors: Levi Barnum-RB/WR/TE/LB (455 yards rushing, 25 rec., 356 yds, 8 TDs); Matthew Froelich-TE/RB/P/KR/LB; Jeff Pace-OL; Elijah Juillard-DE; Jaydin Rethmel-OL/DE; Mateo Villanueva-WR/KR/DB (38 rec., 461, 5 TDs); Junior: Jacob Cadwell-QB/DB (93/168, 1,050 yds, 12 TDs, 9 INTs); Sophomore: Jacob Myers-WR/DB; Chris Damms-WR/DB
STRENGTHS: experienced returning core group
WEAKNESSES: lack of experienced backups
SEASON OUTLOOK: Last season started with our first home varsity win against the 2020 Northern 8 Champion.”
“However, the following week we started our battle with “It” (Covid) and fought to regain our momentum while missing nearly a month before our second game. “
“I’m proud of how our team leaders and coaching staff stayed focused on what we could control, found ways to improve, and battle back to have a season. “
“We arguably could have had a couple more wins, but those experiences improved our focus and will motivate us to respond better in future clutch situations.
“We must be much better in the red zone. We had too many empty trips to the red zone last year.”
“We must protect our QB, take care of the ball, and be more consistent in the run game/short yardage situations.
“Most of our opponents have strong run game schemes. We must execute sound tackling fundamentals and limit explosive plays. We also need to create more turnovers, takeaways, and TFLs.”
“We also must execute schemes to create pre-snap confusion and post-snap pressures while remaining solid in the secondary and in our run fits.”
On special teams, we’re committed to finding ways to steal possessions and keep our opponents off balance with creative special teams plays.
LEAGUE OUTLOOK: Toledo Christian is the reigning Northern 8 Champion and return nearly all their starters. I expect them to continue to set the bar very high for the rest of us.”
“We’re pleased to add the Fort Wayne King’s Crusaders (Harlan, IN) to the league this season. They have a talented roster returning and should be very good as well.”
“Danbury, Holgate, and St Mary’s Central Catholic will have younger rosters, but still have experienced coaching staffs that will maximize their talent.”
“We expect the level of competition to remain high in the Northern 8. We’re excited for the opportunity to compete for a regular season conference championship, and in the Northern 8’s first post-season tournament.”
ABOUT THEIR SCHEDULE: Season Opener: vs. North Adams, MI (Aug. 27th); Northern 8 Opener: vs. Toledo Christian (Sept. 16th)
Nate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org