Bunderson era begins at Craig
A new era in Janesville Craig football begins Friday night.
Adam Bunderson is set to make his head-coaching debut as the Cougars host Madison La Follette in the Big Eight Conference and season-opener at Monterey Stadium.
Bunderson spent three seasons as Craig's offensive coordinator but now makes the move from the press box to the sidelines.
“Like anything else, I know there are going to be some growing pains,” Bunderson said. “But I'm also super proud of the effort I've gotten from these kids and the positive outlook they have.
“I think any time you bring in a new coach, there will certainly be some changes made. But really for me and my coaches, the No. 1 thing we have to do is put kids in position to succeed.”
Craig was 3-6 last season and got gashed defensively. The Cougars allowed 34 or more points in six of nine games. Offensively, under Bunderson's play-calling, Craig averaged 25.6 points per game and it has averaged close to 30 points per game over the past three seasons.
The triple option has been effective for Craig, and Bunderson will stay with that offensive set.
“We'll stick with the triple option until teams can stop us,” Bunderson said. “And that means we'll be a heavy run team. If we can run the ball 55 times a game, that'd be great.
“We might not have the luxury of having that 280-pound Division I prospect at left tackle, but based on the offense we run, we can put a 6-1, 190-pound kid there that can get the job done.”
Craig lost two-year starter Nick Cramer at quarterback, but Bunderson is confident that either junior Ben Coulter or senior Skylar Mashek can step in and execute the offense.
“They both have had good camps and both do a lot of things really well,” Bunderson said. “It may come down to what we're trying to do at that particular point of the game as to who's on the field. And they both may play. It's good to have a little depth at that position, because that's something we haven't always had.”
Seniors Logan Ramsdell and Quintin Hocking will carry the load at fullback. Seniors Ben Kopnick, JJ Brennan, Kyle Klement and Jacob Ngobi are joined by juniors Jacob Reddy, Tegan Christiansen and Trevion Moore to give Bunderson a plethora of wingbacks.
“It's a good problem to have,” Bunderson said of his seven capable backs. “The good thing is that we'll always be able to have a fresh pair of legs on the field.”
The top returning offensive player is tight end Luke Malmanger. The senior caught 23 passes for 399 yards last season and averaged 17.3 yards per carry. He was named to The Gazette's all-area team.
“The thing about Luke is that you can throw the ball high in the air and he's going to come down with it,” Bunderson said. “He's got great hands. We're going to try and get him the ball even more this year.”
Malmanger could be joined, at times, in a two-tight-end set with senior Quinn Kiefer.
Bunderson said the best competition in camp is at wideout, where seniors Talique Clayton and Sam Kelly are battling juniors Logan Kahl and Brandon Ronde for the starting spots.
The offensive line figures to be senior-dominated. Seniors Michael Feirn, Hayden Schumann, Eric Exner and Parker Klementz are joined by junior Josh Kelly.
Although the defense struggled to make plays a year ago, Bunderson believes the Cougars will be much-improved in that area in 2017. Craig will switch to a 4-3 scheme in order to take advantage of good size up front. Bunderson believes having four down linemen every play will help shore up a defense that allowed 63 points in the first game of the season and 52 in the last.
“I toyed with going to a 4-4 (scheme), but we've got some athletic safeties who I wanted to make sure were on the field at all times,” Bunderson said.
The secondary returns three starters in Ngobi, junior Tressin Kussmaul and Christiansen. Jason McBee, Kelly, William Stephens and Clement are also expected to contribute in the secondary.
“Kussmaul and Christiansen are very athletic and saw a lot of playing time as sophomores,” Bunderson said. “And Ngobi got some all-conference recognition at corner last year. It's a good group.”
Junior Garrett Costello has the inside track at mike linebacker, while Seth Glissendorf is back at sam linebacker after earning all-conference honors last season. Sam Smith, Ramsdell, Hayden Schumann and Dalton Tally will also get reps at one of the three linebacker positions.
The defensive line will be led by junior Keeanu Benton. The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder was a Big Eight wrestling champ and should be a disruptive force up front. Avery Caley, Tyler McFarland, Jake Fieras, Kyle Krueger, Tamarcus Daniels and Quinn Kiefer will all be part of the rotation.
Bunderson believes if the defense can find a way to get off the field on third down and games don't turn into track meets, the Cougars can improve upon last year's three-win season.
“Right now, our focus is on La Follette and (Madison) East,” Bunderson said. “I think making the playoffs is a realistic goal because we're deep enough at a number of key positions. But in our conference, it's never easy. The focus has to be on Week 1, followed by Week 2.
“I'm not naive enough to think that we're going to outwork other teams, but at the same time let's not let other teams work harder than us. Get to the fourth quarter and give yourself a chance.”
That first chance comes Friday night as the Adam Bunderson era begins at Janesville Craig.
No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.
1 Skylar Mashek Sr. 6-5 200 QB/LB
2 Tegan Christiansen Jr. 5-7 150 RB/DB
3 Cade Scott Jr. 5-9 140 RB/DB
4 Ben Coulter Jr. 5-9 160 QB/DB
5 Quinn Kiefer Sr. 6-4 215 TE/LB
6 Devon Minor Jr. 5-8 130 WR/DB
7 Talique Clayton Sr. 6-2 190 WR/DB
8 Luke Malmanger Sr. 6-2 220 TE/LB
9 Jack Richards Jr. 5-8 140 WR/DB
10 Jarrett Costello Jr. 6-0 195 FB/LB
11 Tamarcus Daniels Sr. 6-1 205 TE/DE
12 Jacob Ngobi Sr. 5-11 180 RB/DB
14 Sam Kelly Sr. 6-0 170 WR/DB
15 Bryce Johnson Sr. 6-2 175 WR/DB
16 Emmett Hitt Sr. 5-11 190 RB/LB
17 Charlie Reichard Sr. 6-0 160 WR/DB
20 Kyle Clement Sr. 5-5 160 RB/DB
21 Jason McBee Sr. 5-10 145 WR/DB
22 Ben Kopnick Sr. 6-0 190 RB/LB
23 Nolan Gittings Sr. 5-8 140 WR/DB
24 Matt Kremer Jr. 5-9 155 WR/DB
25 Steven Eklund Sr. 6-0 190 OL/LB
26 Tressin Kussmaul Jr. 6-2 185 FB/DB
27 Logan Ramsdell Sr. 5-10 190 FB/LB
30 Quinton Hocking Sr. 5-8 185 FB/LB
31 Devin Alderson Jr. 5-8 160 FB/DB
32 Brandon Ronde Jr. 6-1 170 WR/DB
33 AJ Jones Sr 6-0 165 WR/DB
34 Jacob Reddy Jr. 6-1 185 RB/DB
35 JJ Brennan Sr. 6-1 180 RB/DB
36 Besnik Mecollari Jr. 5-8 185 FB/LB
40 Sam Smith Jr. 6-0 190 TE/LB
41 Tremayne Gibbs Jr. 5-11 155 WR/DB
42 Jordan Noss Jr. 5-11 155 WR/DB
43 Seth Glissendorf Sr. 6-3 195 TE/LB
45 Preston Atkinson Sr.
46 Austin Zimborski Jr. 5-8 155 RB/LB
48 Devontay Minor Jr. 5-10 140 WR/LB
50 Avery Caley Sr. 6-0 230 OL/DL
51 Eric Exner Sr. 6-2 215 OL/DL
53 Dalton Tally Sr. 5-11 200 OL/LB
54 Michael Feirn Sr. 6-2 240 OL/DL
55 Hayden Schumann Sr. 6-0 195 OL/LB
57 Asa Albrecht Jr. 5-9 220 OL/DL
60 Jake Feiras Jr. 6-3 200 OL/DL
61 Ross Kemp Jr. 5-11 165 OL/DL
63 Tyler McFarland Jr. 5-11 285 OL/DL
64 Troy Smith Jr. 5-8 215 OL/DL
65 Nick Hernandez Jr. 5-7 170 OL/DL
68 Gunnar DeRemer Jr. OL/DL
70 Anthony Saunders Jr. 5-9 215 K
71 Bennett East Jr. 5-10 215 OL/DL
72 Brennan Markwart Sr. OL/DL
74 Josh Kelly Jr. 6-3 250 OL/DL
75 Parker Klementz Sr. 6-0 220 OL/DL
80 Trevion Moore Jr. 5-9 130 RB/DB
83 Matthew Schroeder Jr. 5-11 145 TE/LB
85 William Stephens Sr. 5-11 160 WR/DB
87 Charlie Olsen Sr. 6-1 200 TE/DL
93 Dylan Kurtz Sr. 6-1 200 OL/DL
97 Mikey McIntyre Jr. 5-7 200 OL/DL
98 Christopher Black Jr. 6-7 300 OL/DL
99 Keanu Benton Jr. 6-4 295 OL/DL