Looking for a Repeat: Bay Port Football Preview
By Rich Palzewic, Correspondent
SUAMICO – The 2017 version of the Bay Port football team will have a tough act to follow.
After winning the Fox River Classic Conference title in undefeated fashion in 2016, the Pirates must replace a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball if they look to repeat as FRCC champs. Bay Port finished 11-1 overall and made it all the way to the WIAA D1 state quarterfinals before losing a 37-34 heartbreaker to Stevens Point.
“Each year is neat and certainly our accomplishments last year were of that team,” said head coach Gary Westerman, whose team returns just three starters from last year. “It’s exciting for the program, but we don’t really talk or think about that anymore. This team is a new team.”
The Pirates had 16 players make all-conference in 2016 and only one is back: senior tight end Jack Plumb, who recently committed to the University of Iowa.
Gone are four conference players of the year, including Quinn Pierner (offensive back), Tristan Stevens (offensive line), Jake Weber (defensive back) and Matt Lorbeck (defensive player of the year). Lorbeck was also named the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association defensive player of the year after his 116-tackle season and is now playing at D1 Northern Illinois.
“It typically happens every year here,” said Westerman in regards to losing so many seniors and quality players. “We work hard to develop our kids in the JV program so that they are ready to play when they become varsity players.”
The biggest question mark appears to be at the quarterback spot after the Pirates lost one of the best QB’s in the state in Pierner. Pierner completed an amazing 77-percent of his passes (141-183) for 2,106 yards with 26 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with his 984 yards on 170 attempts for 12 TD’s. That’s a combined 3,090 yards and 38 touchdowns from one player.
“I think right now Isaac (Krause) has the lead there just because he is a senior,” Westerman said. “We have a number of guys in the program that are looking good, though.”
Also gone from the backfield are Ben Styczynski and Riquel Lollis, who combined for an additional 1,492 yards rushing and 26 TD’s. Receivers Jordan Nolle (first-team, 41 receptions for 626 yards) and CJ Maternoski (34-442) have also graduated.
Look for Jacob Calawerts, Mars Mcgriff, Ryan Smith and Spencer Van Pietersom to pick up the slack in the backfield, while Cordell Tinch will be a big threat at receiver. Tinch is a ten-time state qualifier in track and field and won two state championships (triple jump, 110-meter hurdles) in the spring at the WIAA D1 state meet.
Besides Lorbeck and Weber (88 tackles), Jake Stelzer (113) and Brandon Huettl (92) will also be heavily missed on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think our depth on defense will be really good, but we just have to figure out where guys best fit in,” Westerman added.
Westerman says Pulaski might be a team to watch this year, but that “there is no clear cut favorite in the FRCC and there are a lot more unknowns this season.”
Notes: for a full schedule, visit www.foxriverclassicconference.com and click on the Bay Port link… the Pirates first three opponents – Sheboygan North, Sheboygan South and Manitowoc – were a combined 3-24 last season, while Bay Port’s last six opponents were a combined 33-18… Nolle, Weber and Pierner all opted not to play college sports and are attending UW-Madison… the Pirates first three games of the season are all on Thursday nights.