Big Foot has two-way plans
Big Foot High’s football season was derailed last season by a defense that allowed an average of 31.9 points a game, negating an offense that averaged of 27.4.
Coach Greg Enz is taking steps to bolster the defense, and the plan includes his offense.
“We threw 16 interceptions and had something like eight lost fumbles,” Enz said. “We didn’t help our defense. It’s a two-way street. Those scores can sometimes be misleading.”
With an offense that is led by Jackson Enz—Greg’s son—at quarterback, and several talented receivers, the Chiefs again should be able to score.
That puts the points of emphasis in preseason practices on two areas. “It’s going to come down to defense and offensive line play,” Enz said.
The head coach doesn’t have to fret about the quarterback position.
Jackson Enz threw for 15 touchdowns and rushed for 15 more last season. He completed 177 passes for 2,167 yards, and rushed for 770 more yards. The two-time state track and field champion—in hurdles—is headed to North Dakota State on a football scholarship.
“We’re looking at a very similar role for him,” Greg Enz said. “Some goals for him will be to be more efficient with the ball. We were great last year at getting big scores and big drives, but we weren’t consistent from series to series.
“He also wants to manage the ball better. If he does that, we’ll put ourselves in better positions both offensively and defensively.”
Jackson Enz will also be a starting safety and returns as the conference’s first-team punter.
The co-offensive player of the year will have several targets to choose from when he looks downfield.
Senior Pedro Sierra earned all-Rock Valley Conference first-team honors last season. The 6-foot, 180-pound Sierra had a team-high 46 receptions for 638 yards and seven touchdowns.
“He’s the best of what I think is a pretty strong and deep perimeter group,” Enz said. “It’s as strong as I’ve been a part of in 20 years.”
Senior Jack Heidenreich was a second-team wide receiver last year. Juniors Aidan Greco and A.J. Courier, and seniors Hunter Sharpe (5-10, 158) and Tucker Milligan also will be prime targets.
The backfield will be “by committee” when the Chiefs open the season against rival Brodhead/Juda on the road Friday. Sophomore Cole Vance has had a good preseason camp and goes in as the starter.
Enz said his team is not as large in the trenches as in the past, but some opponents will dispute that.
Junior Nick Freymiller (5-10, 299 pounds) starts at center. He will be flanked by senior twins Danny (5-9, 277) and Aaron Carpenter (5-8, 260). Transfer student Kolin Leidberg (5-11, 228) and Sam Dickerson (6-0, 272) will man the tackle positions, with senior Jose Mercado (5-9, 208), a converted fullback, likely seeing playing time on the line, as well.
The Chiefs’ 4-2-5 defense will feature more two-way players than last season.
“There were a lot of benefits of trying to be a two-platoon program,” Enz said. “But in retrospect, there were some things that didn’t go as well as we thought they would. We’re back to making some adjustments.”
Danny Carpenter and Leidberg will start up front, with junior Jack Hereley (6-3, 212) and Mercado in the rotating mix.
Linebackers will be junior Eduardo Cruz, seniors Ethan Rowland and Sam Ritchey and sophomore Danny Hereley.
Milligan will start at free safety opposite Jackson Enz. Sierra and Heidenreich likely will be the starting cornerbacks, with Konor Gerhardt and Jack Gillingham rotating in various spots.
Can the Chiefs come back from their fourth-place finish in the Rock Valley last season, when they were ousted in the second round of the playoffs?
“I think there’s good ability within the group,” Enz said. “Our success will be determined by our line play and our defensive presence. There’s reasons to be optimistic.”