Scouting the Westminster Christian Warriors
The Westminster Christian football program lives.
The Warriors two years ago switched from 11-man football to eight-man football due to declining participation. The issue worsened last year to the point the season had to be scrapped in August.
However, the seven remaining players -- led by then-juniors Jacob Branscom, Peter DeFalco, Caleb Janschek and Tyler Oman -- continued to practice throughout the 2018 season in the hope there would be a season this fall. They practiced three days a week through late October without so much as a scrimmage against another team.
"Those seven kids all sold out last year and really committed to the program," said new head coach Tim Oman, also an assistant baseball coach at the Elgin school. "Those four seniors were the core."
With a roster of 13 committed players bolstered by incoming freshmen, Westminster Christian will resume eight-man football this season, one of 16 such teams statewide.
Oman, formerly the defensive coordinator at Alden-Hebron for three seasons, will direct the Warriors through a nine-game schedule. Last year he assisted former Westminster Christian coach Mike Gross, who has since moved out of state.
"Mike kept it alive," Tim Oman said of the football program. "I was fortunate to be able to help him with it, and now I have an opportunity to take it over. We'll miss Mike. He was a great coach."
Most players will see double duty on both sides of the ball. Branscom, a strong, hard tackler, according to his coach, has played football all four years. He will see time at fullback, tight end and defensive end. His freshman brother, Johnathan Branscom, is a wide receiver/cornerback.
Oman said DeFalco, a wide receiver and cornerback, accentuated his natural speed through a dedicated training program and kept his skills sharp by playing off-season flag football. DeFalco has gained interest from a couple of small college programs.
Janschek is the heart of the interior line on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound senior plays center and nose guard. "He's a good snapper out of the shotgun, a good blocker and a smart kid," his coach said. "He gets up to the line and can recognize if there's a blitz on." Janschek is flanked by William Black, a 6-4, 290-pound sophomore.
Tyler Oman, a strong-armed catcher on the baseball team, plays quarterback and linebacker. One of Oman's receiving targets is his freshman brother, Trevor Oman, also a corner.
Two other receivers to target are juniors Jessie Schambach and David Turpin. Schambach plays outside linebacker on defense. Turpin is a cornerback.
Tim Oman called junior Jessie Schambach, who has rugby experience, "a great tackler." He plays outside linebacker and running back. His freshman brother, James Schambach, plays offensive tackle and defensive end.
A wild card could be speedy freshman ball carrier Bennett Vanagas. His coach called him "greased lightning" and said the 5-foot-4, 140-pound back is "like butter on a hot griddle; He's there, then he's gone."
Two weeks before the season opener Oman said the coaching staff was still teaching a lot of the basic fundamentals of the game.
"We have some young players who are learning, but the kids are excited to play," he said.