Aiming for another: Bay Port football preview
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – Despite losing a fair amount of talent from a season ago, the Bay Port football team always has the same philosophy: we don’t rebuild, we reload.
Isaac Krause (co-offensive player of the year in the FRCC), Cordell Tinch (University of Minnesota) and Jack Plumb (University of Iowa) have all graduated, but that doesn’t mean the Pirates won’t be looking at winning another Fox River Classic Conference title.
Bay Port has won 18 FRCC games in a row, dating back to the final regular-season game in the 2015 season when they lost to De Pere.
The Pirates finished 11-1 last year and lost a WIAA D1 state quarterfinal game to Appleton North, 49-41.
They will open the season by hosting Sheboygan North this Thursday, Aug. 16, in the season opener at 7:00.
“We have a really good group of young kids that have worked hard during the offseason,” said head coach Gary Westerman. “We are excited about the opportunity to develop a little more every week. We will have a lot of young players out there, but they are talented players – that’s exciting.”
The biggest question mark might be finding a replacement for Krause, who rushed for 1,103 yards and threw for another 1,787. He accounted for 27 touchdowns and was one of the leaders of the team.
According to Westerman, the quarterback position is still up in the air, with senior Jake Plummer and junior Andrew Thomas both taking reps. The Pirates will have a few games to figure it out, as they open up against the previously-mentioned North, Sheboygan South and Manitowoc. Those three teams combined last year were 3-24.
“We will see how that shakes out,” Westerman said about the quarterback situation. “They are both great kids who have worked hard, are good leaders and bring different things to the table. As with every position, we have some good competition across the board.”
Tinch was first team at receiver after he caught 70 passes in 2017 for 964 yards and 9 touchdowns. The speedster also added two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Cody Lindquist – who was the punter a season ago – will look to replace Tinch out wide, while junior running back Isaiah Gash is back for another season. Gash rushed for 872 yards on the ground with 15 touchdowns. Jacob Calawerts (832 yards, 15 TDs) has graduated.
“Cody has really developed and is fast,” said Westerman. “He really bought into the strength program – his development over the last 10 months has been unbelievable. It’s a testament to his work ethic. With Isaiah, he is an explosive athlete. We really want to get him in open space where he is hell on wheels in a five-yard box, one-on-one.”
Defensively, Bay Port had its fair share of problems at times giving up the big play, as was indicated in the last two playoff games where it surrendered 100 combined points.
“The reality is, we just have to be more consistent defensively,” Westerman added. “Fundamentally, when we gave up big plays, our run fits were bad – that’s on us as coaches. We’ve worked hard on that this offseason.”
Junior Call Verlanic will be back at his linebacker position after collecting 116 tackles last season. Junior Max Meeuwsen – who had a breakout year as a sophomore on the defensive line – will also be looking to take another step up this year. Tanner Hendricks – who was the defensive back of the year in the conference – has graduated.
Westerman tabs the traditional FRCC teams as ones to watch again this year: Pulaski, Ashwaubenon, Notre Dame, Green Bay Southwest and De Pere.
Pulaski returns the co-offensive player of the year in Dylan Hendricks, who rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2017.