Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 8/22/2016 9:27 PM

Football: Fremd focuses on a firm foundation

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  • Quarterback Tom Josten is back for a Fremd team which figures to feature a powerful running game anchored by a powerful offensive line.

    Quarterback Tom Josten is back for a Fremd team which figures to feature a powerful running game anchored by a powerful offensive line.
    Daily Herald photo

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

It will be back to the future for Fremd this year.

The Vikings are returning to a formula that had them regularly pushing the envelope in the state playoffs. That means higher numbers in the program, more players playing just one way and an offense that is built on a run-first philosophy.

"We have 60 players out, which is much easier to run a program," said Fremd coach Lou Sponsel, who had just 42 out for the team last year. "It is much better for us. It is easier to practice and just feels more like a football practice."

That practice includes going back to an old Fremd favorite -- running the football. And that means a lot.

"We will be a pro style," Sponsel said. "We have smart kids. We need to be able to check on the field. But we have to run the football. That is what Fremd does.

"We have got away from that the past few years, and that is who our program is."

But unlike previous years when Fremd has leaned in one big back for most of the carries and yards, Sponsel will have a running back-by-committee approach. Alec Honickel, Joe Schneider and Jake Haas all should see multiple carries each game.

But that does not mean that the Vikings won't be throwing the ball. Fremd returns Tommy Josten at quarterback. A year older, Josten, who threw for 1,209 yards last year, should flourish in this offense.

"Our passing game is as good as I have seen it," Sponsel said. "We have a lot of new stuff in our offense that our kids have not seen in a while."

In typical Fremd fashion, the offensive line will be solid and massive again this season.

The Vikings have three returning starters in Ethan Hanson (6-3, 300), Matt Payne (6-3, 265) and Max Carver (5-9, 244). Zack Nemec (6-3, 275) will start at the other spot while sophomore Will Josten and Tyler Wascow (6-1, 216) will battle for the other.

Fremd will also have Austin Schwantz (6-4, 245), who has an offer from San Diego State, bouncing between lining up with the offensive line or splitting out. Will McCabe (6-3, 249) will also play some tight end, especially when the Vikes go double-tight.

Mitch Kazmer, Nick Cechin, Patrick Ryzcek and Ben Konopka will be at wide receiver.

Defensively, the Vikings will stay in their 4-2-5, but with a few twists.

Tom Keane, Nemec, Schwantz and McCabe will be up front for the Vikings. They also return Jimmy Walsh, who has increased his size and speed at one if the inside linebackers spots along with Tyler Mitzner, Mike Constantino and Luke Bilek.

The secondary will feature Haas and Schneider along with Jaden Jackson, Mark Metzen and Zach Goodman to give the Vikings all seniors back there.

Sponsel says this year's team is a much more cohesive unit.

"The big thing here at Fremd is that we have always had talent here," Sponsel said. "But the thing we missed is playing for each other, and accountability. And we have that this season."

Sponsel likes the new schedule, which features New Trier and Glenbrook South, perennial 8A playoff contenders.

"Playing an easy schedule does not get you ready for the playoffs," Sponsel said. "We like our schedule this year."

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