Young Menomonee Falls football team will try to maintain standards
Team opens Friday at home against Oak Creek
The Menomonee Falls football team has had a great history of overachieving and doing more with less in recent years.
Last year was no different, as the Indians came within a game of a Greater Metro Conference title in earning a 7-3 record.
But veteran coach John Baker and his staff will be put sorely to the test this season, as the Indians deal with smaller than usual numbers, just two returning starters on offense and only a few more on defense as they work to maintain their status as one of the GMC's elite.
"The last two years have both been pretty big senior classes," said Baker, "but this year's senior class is a little down in numbers and we don't have a lot of experience back."
Falls, which will open at home at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, against Southeast Conference power Oak Creek, has about 70 players out through sophomore through senior. Of these, about 32 are sophomores. Of a bit of concern is the freshman class, which is 35 strong, down a bit from previous years.
Building an offense
But for the here and now, Baker's main concern is building an offense of some viability without Now All-Suburban running back Christian Almonte and two-year starting quarterback and great leader Adam Vechart, who have both graduated.
Junior Bryce McMurtry, who lettered as a receiver/running back last year, will step into Vechart's position.
"He's doing well so far," said Baker. "It's a little hard to tell. We'll get into the scrimmage (which was held Aug. 15 against Hartford) and find out more. But he does give us a little bit of experience."
Which, elsewhere, is hard to find for the Indians. The only other returning hand on offense is senior center Pete Navin.
Falls is finding people, but Baker knows the staff will have to be patient. Other skill position people who have made an impact include receivers junior Ben Knudsen, junior Brandon Kivisto and seniors Myles Mayer and Brady Schneider. At the running back position, three people are in the running, but Baker said the coaches are waiting for one of them to distinguish himself.
Front eight retooled
The defense is better off, but still Falls will have to replace its entire line and much of its linebacking corps. On the line, senior Shaun Aili has been a standout so far, but Baker said there will be a lot of rotation on the unit in the Indians' 3-5-3 defensive set.
A strength will be returning All-GMC senior inside linebacker Tyler Simcock. He will get help at his position from senior three-year letter-winning outside linebacker Tom Paul. Other returnees include junior All-GMC strong safety Mike Conrady and junior defensive back Zach Kornburger.
A player with some pedigree and great potential is sophomore two-way lineman Matt Henningsen (6-4, 240). He's the younger brother of Joe Henningsen, an ace linebacker on the Indians' 2009 state finalist squad.
Simcock, Paul and McMurtry have done a good job as leaders so far, said Baker.
"The defensive shell does have some experience," said Baker. "Overall, we have a lot of kids, a lot of new kids fighting for positions. What was nice though, is that I can hardly remember better weather for the two-a-days.
"We just have to be patient and take everything one day at a time. The goal will remain the same, to make the state playoffs. But I like what I see so far. You just never know what will happen until you get out there and start hitting."
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