Saugatuck football hopes for a great small-group season
SAUGATUCK – This season there are barely enough members of the Saugatuck High School varsity football team to perform 7v7 drills in practice.
The team is made up of only 16 players, including 12 seniors. But just because of the low turnout, that won’t hamper Trailblazers’ expectations. Coach Bill Dunn is entering his 19th season at school and has won two state title appearances in the past 11 years.
âWe have a great tradition here, we have high standards, high expectations,â Dunn said. “We’re small town football, we don’t have big [roster] numbers, but we’re very proud of our football program. ”
Last season was a sluggish year for the Trailblazers, finishing 3-4 on the shortened COVID campaign. But with a great returning senior class, there’s plenty to be optimistic about.
Senior running back Benny Diaz will be one of the star players in Dunn’s winged T offense. He was forced into the quarterback position last season, but Brogan Kelley will be back under center this year leading the offense.
âBrogan has been a quarterback for a good part of his life so in terms of experience he’s a little better than me there,â Diaz said. “I know he will be comfortable and it will be a good game, me as the running back and him as the quarterback.”
A ton won’t be put on Kelley’s plate in terms of throwing the ball, but that doesn’t mean her job will be easy. A common misconception when looking at the T-Wing is that all the appellant does is hand the ball to the athletes behind him.
It couldn’t be further from the truth.
âYou have to have good feet under the center, good hands because you have to be a magician with the way you convey or pretend,â Dunn said. âBeing a Wing-T quarterback is more than people think. ”
One of the biggest goals for Kelley, Diaz and the rest of the Trailblazers offense will be controlling the clock. With so many players needing to be on the pitch for both offense and defense, they want to run for as many minutes as possible, eliminating the number of times the opposition can take on a group of breathless bodies that just knocked down. the ball. field.
“Our philosophy is that the longer our offense is on the ground, the less our defense should be,” said Dunn. “If we can control the ball, we should be able to limit the other team’s offense.”
But for this attack to work like a well-oiled machine, Saugatuck needs everyone to stay healthy. When removing a kicker, there are only four substitutes on the sidelines at any given time, in attack or defense.
This commitment to staying healthy was evident to the team. Even when using full pads in training, they don’t hit each other with full contact. They also have a rigorous conditioning and weightlifting regimen, both of which have been shown to significantly reduce the number of injuries.
âWe’re here in physical condition every day, right now we’re even going twice a day,â Diaz said. “We sled and lift twice a week, so conditioning ourselves and being stronger than everyone else is our most important things.”
They hope that all the work they are doing now will lead to results this fall, a big step forward from last year. Senior running back and defensive back John Hartgerink said that at this point they are just trying to improve each day.
In their mind, improving a little each time they step onto the field will yield positive results. They don’t just want to win a few games, they have their mindset on more important things.
âWe want to do a deep run in the playoffs,â Hartgerink said. “But we’re just looking to improve from last season, execute our offense, beat teams and win games.”
Who knows, they might even end up at Ford Field like two of Dunn’s previous Saugatuck teams. Some may count them due to the small size of the team. But it’s not about the size of the roster, but the heart and drive of these 16 guys.
âThe number is small, but we have a large group of children,â said Dunn. “If you have the right 16s this group can take you to the finals and that’s my message to these guys.”