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FOOTBALL PREVIEW - Assessing the returning players

by Chris Conley

EVERYTHING EVERGREENS (WSAU-FOX SPORTS WAUSAU): The Evergreens football team has 40 players who had some varsity experience as underclassmen last season. Lets break down who they are, and where they stand at the start of the season. (My list doesnt account for kids who might not come out for football this season, or who might have moved away from the school district.)

(These are players who had significant playing time last year, and figure to be key players for this years team. There are only for of them.)

Kyle Zblewski (kick returner, WR), one of the fastest players who didn't graduate last season, averaged more than 30-yards per kickoff return. The Evergreens will look to get the ball into his hands more this season.

Nathan Reedy (RB), carried more than 30 times last season and ran for 150-yards.

Mike Plaza (LB), very active on defense and was among the team leaders in tackles before being injured. He's a natural athlete who could be used on both sides of the ball.

Zach Hoffman (P), was the leading punter in the conference last season and don't underestimate how important that is. He might take on an even larger role, perhaps as a blocking tight end or adding place-kicking duties.

(These are players who have some varsity experience, and will probably have an expanded role this season.)

Andrew Miller (RB), was getting the ball more often towards the end of last season and will likely share ground-game duties with Nathan Reedy.

Rex Tarras (DB), led the team in sacks and showed good speed on the defensive side of the ball. I may be misclassifying him; he might belong in the 3 star category.

Avery Allard (DB), was top-10 in tackles last season and is very athletic.

John Wierzba (Lineman), he got some playing time as a sophomore and is a big, broad-shouldered lineman. He can anchor the offensive line and has the size and physicality to move opponents backward. If he comes back bigger, stronger for this season... watch out.

Josh Merchant (OL) is a three-sport athlete and another big lineman in an area that should be a strength for the Evergreens.

(These are players with limited varsity experience, although some will be asked to fill much larger roles this season.)

Darren Sanchez (QB) It would be great to see him develop into a varsity level quarterback; he had only a few snaps last season. I wish I'd seen him play at the JV level to better assess his skills. His coaches like him.

Jamie Moe (Lineman) My roster has him listed as a sophomore last season; he's tall and big on a team that doesn't have a lot of height. He'll be on the field for many more snaps.

Joe Ziolkowski (LB) He's a competitive wrestler, and those skills can also make for a tough defensive player.

Ethan Burmeister (LB / FB) Any sophomore who gets on the varsity field has talent. He played some defense and can also be used as a fullback. He's going to grow physically and as a player this year.

Cale Christianson (LB) Has some experience with the varsity, but was considered a very solid defender at the JV level last season. I expect he'll also see a significant increase in playing time.

If a player isn't listed, I simply don't know enough about them or didn't see them play last year.

Practice starts in two-and-a-half weeks.

Chris Conley