Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 8/21/2014 9:59 PM

Smaller roster has big expectations at Fremd

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  • Speedy senior Darius Burchette figures to lead the way in Fremd's backfield behind an impressive group of linemen.

      Speedy senior Darius Burchette figures to lead the way in Fremd's backfield behind an impressive group of linemen.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

For Fremd and coach Lou Sponsel, the hope is that there will be addition through subtraction this season.

"There will be a much smaller roster number," said Sponsel, who had 98 players on his roster last year and has 59 this season. "The kids that made it through this year want to be here. We really upped the ante in the off-season and the players here have really bought in."

Perhaps no one more than Darius Burchette, who has been on the varsity team since his freshman year. A running back, Burchette, who has blazing speed, had seen just limited action in his first three years. But Sponsel figures that will all change that season.

"When we went away to our team camp this summer, something clicked," Sponsel said. "This is a kid we have never seen before. He has always battled injuries and confidence. He is playing like a good high school football player."

Cody Patenaude will also play some running back while Jawan Gaines, Ken Lyke, Jeff Gill and Cordell Finley will be playing wide receiver. Pat McMahon and sophomore Austin Schwantz will see action at tight end.

Nick Bossong will take over at quarterback after the graduation of four-year starter Sam Beutler. Bossong will run a new offense that will have the plays called by Sponsel this year.

But the strength of Fremd's offense figures to come from its offensive line, which is massive: Jake Plantz (6-foot-3, 250 pounds), Dominic Lombard (6-5, 295), Jack Albrecht (6-4, 255), along with junior guards Kyle Saxon (6-1, 240) and Will Pankratz (6-0, 233). Patrick Chomczyk (6-3, 235) will also be in the mix.

"We have a lot of speed on the perimeter and we are big up front," Sponsel said. "But I think depth is the key this year. Our top-tier players are very good and we have been able to solidify some depth behind them."

The Vikings will continue to run their 4-2 defense, with a flex twist to it.

"We needed to add some other wrinkles without losing who we are," Sponsel said. "We will run a flex. It is similar to what the Arizona Wildcats used to run."

Matt McCabe, Alex Jacobs, Dominik Wrobel and Tommy Vannieuwenhoven along with McMahon will be rotating upfront for the Vikings. At linebacker, Jack Hanson returns and will be joined by Patrick Chen.

"This group is pretty athletic and has sound discipline," Sponsel said. "They are all very strong too."

At safety, Fremd returns Ryan Haas, who was limited by injury last year. He will be joined by Lyke. Jake Haas, who is a sophomore, could also see some playing time at corner along with Dennis Mayer, Gaines, Kyle Lewis and Patrick Kurka all figuring to get time on the field.

Fremd will get a great test when its season opens. The Vikings will play at Lake Zurich, a team they have not defeated in their last three meetings.

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