Drop off? Doubtful: Napoleon-GS has plenty to defend its titleDon’t expect a big drop off from Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter this season, if any at all.
By: Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Don’t expect a big drop off from Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter this season, if any at all.
Despite losing several key players off their 9-man state championship team, Kelly McCleary’s Imperials clearly are reloading rather than rebuilding.
“We have a pretty good core of players back from last season,” said the former U-Mary and Napoleon standout. “I think we’re going to be all right.”
Few, if any, teams in the state lost more star power than the Imperials.
All-everything quarterback Jonah Schwartzenberger was a three-year starter, who McCleary said was, “Like having another coach on the field. If there was a problem on the field, he could fix it in the huddle.”
Fellow first-team all-stater Wade Rath-Wald also has graduated. The big and athletic tight end/linebacker was a match-up nightmare for everybody.
Leading rusher Jared Reis also ran out of eligibility, but the cupboard is far from bare.
“We lost some special players, no doubt about it, but those elementary kids that are at all the games playing and watching, they want to be that next guy to be on the field,” McCleary said. “That’s the good thing about having a winning tradition. The next group of kids want to keep it going.”
They won’t have to rely on a bunch of newbies.
All-state selections Steven Weigel and Andrew Beine lead a strong nucleus returning. The versatile Weigel will probably play more positions this season than he doesn’t. He caught 50 balls for 560 yards last fall, but will be used in a variety of roles on both sides of the ball.
Beine is one of the top lineman in the state.
Trent Fettig, who played receiver last season, will take over quarterbacking duties. McCleary called Fettig, “probably pound for pound the best athlete on our team.”
The bottom line: Don’t expect much drop-off. In McCleary’s five years as coach Napoleon is 37-5. They’re just four days away from kicking things off on the road against Sargent Central, in what will be an extremely busy August for the Imperials and all 9-man teams.
“We play three games in August. I don’t ever remember playing three games in August,” he said, “but we’ll be ready.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org