Parker looking to regroup
Janesville Parker head coach Clayton Kreger and his football team took a good, long look in the mirror following the 2016 season.
Armed with two Division I college-bound linemen, a perennial 1,000-yard rusher and a first-team all-Big Eight Conference linebacker, the Vikings had lofty goals. But they finished with a 4-5 record and missed out on a second consecutive playoff appearance.
“We've taken it to the next level, as far as expectations are concerned. And it's more than wins and losses; we're really starting to grow,” Kreger said. “Obviously our No. 1 goal is to get to the top of the conference. But right now we have our eyes set on making it back to the playoffs.”
Kreger—entering his third season—said he will never use the term “rebuild.” But he and his staff have spent the past couple weeks installing the building blocks for a bevy of fresh faces.
Parker will open the season Friday night at Verona with just one starter returning on offense. That one, senior Jordan Bailey, was the team's quarterback the past two seasons, but he is also seeing time at receiver and on the defensive side of the ball. So Parker's 11 offensive players could be completely new depending on how the starting lineups shake out.
“We've got a lot of holes to fill,” Kreger said. “A lot of new guys, so it's coming back to the fundamentals. A lot of juniors will play. We're focusing on keeping our offense and defense simple and getting these guys up to speed.”
What won't be new is the Vikings' desire to run the ball. Senior Seamus Murphy, who gained some experience last year, is slated to be the team's tailback, with junior Casey Vanderlinden slotted at fullback. Luke Roca and Bryce Dyer are also in the mix for carries.
“Seamus started to get some reps last year but wound up breaking his collar bone,” Kreger said. “He's an all-state track guy, and Casey is one of the toughest guys we have.
“We're going to keep pounding the ball, that's for sure.”
The Vikings will do so behind an offensive line that is a bit of a work in progress. Juan Harris (Indiana) and Alonzo Velazquez (Wyoming) were all-conference honorees last year who are on Division I college rosters now. Senior Mitchell Combs is the top returner up front and will likely play tackle. Junior Nic Graffin is slotted at the center position.
Beyond that, the Vikings entered the final week of practice with lots of competition for time on the offensive line.
Along with Bailey, seniors Max Kisting and Kyle Birkett are seniors competing for time at quarterback.
Both Kisting and Birkett were voted captains, along with senior Kyle Fuller and juniors Andrew Meyers and Toby Garvoille.
If not at quarterback, Bailey and Birkett are seeing time at receiver, along with seniors Jadyn Ellis and Toby Cook and junior Brody Lippens, among others.
Parker has holes to fill defensively, as well, but at least has several returners up the middle, including seniors Sam Garvoille at safety, Fuller at middle linebacker and Collyn Wacholtz at tackle.
Kreger said outside linebackers Chase Hamilton and Zach Zahler got good experience last year and have had strong camps.
“Our defense is going to be the key to our success,” Kreger said. “I think it's going to be a pretty good defense.”
Toby Garvoille and Christian Pope join the fray at middle linebacker. Senior Dawson Shultz will be a starter on a defensive line that's still sorting through options.
Senior Cortell Johnson, Ellis and Lippens help lead the way in the defensive backfield.
Kreger said the program's numbers are on the rise at the younger levels. Parker nearly had enough players out to have two freshman teams. Currently, Middleton is the only program with two.
And Parker's roster has several players new or returning to football who were part of the basketball, baseball or wrestling rosters in recent years.
“We're the second-smallest school in the Big Eight, so we have to encourage multiple-sport athletes,” Kreger said. “I think our coaching staffs, including basketball and wrestling, are doing a good job of promoting that.”
With numbers and attitude on his side, Kreger hopes the Vikings' 2017 is spent marching in the right direction.
“Obviously 2016 was very disappointing for all of us, and some of it comes back to just buying in together,” he said. “I think that's something we've been missing. We're really building a program and not a team right now.”
No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.
1 Cortell Johnson Sr. 6-0 133 WR/DB
2 Kyle Birkett Sr. 5-9 168 QB/WR
3 Tremar Curry Jr. 6-0 155 WR/DB
4 Max Kisting Sr. 6-0 195 QB/TE
5 Zach Zahler Sr. 5-11 150 WR/DB
6 Jadyn Ellis Sr. 6-4 196 WR/DB
7 Seamus Murphy Sr. 5-11 176 RB/LB
8 Sam Garvoille Sr. 6-1 189 WR/DB
9 Brandon West Jr. 5-9 137 RB/LB
10 Josiah Benjestorf Sr. 6-0 195 WR/DB
11 Jordan Bailey Sr. 6-1 178 QB/DB
14 Brody Lippens Jr. 5-10 148 WR/DB
15 Bryce Dyer Jr. 5-8 175 RB/LB
16 Noah Loui Jr. 5-10 135 WR/DB
19 Kyle Fuller Sr. 6-1 177 RB/LB
20 Chase Hamilton Sr. 5-11 154 WR/LB
21 Andrew Meyers Jr. 6-0 157 WR/DB
22 Adam Teubert Sr. 6-2 205 OL/DL
24 John Bowers Jr. 6-0 166 WR/DB
25 Sam Nemetz Sr. 6-0 157 WR/DB
26 Casey Vanderlinden Jr. 5-8 145 RB/LB
28 Shae Mitchell Sr. 5-8 152 RB/DB
31 Kobe Ayers Sr. 5-10 148 WR/DB
32 Tyler Hamilton Jr. 5-8 131 WR/DB
34 Toby Garvoille Jr. 6-1 166 RB/LB
36 Luke Roca Jr. 5-6 131 RB/LB
40 Alex Fugate Jr. 6-2 170 WR/LB
45 Korbyn Squires Jr. 6-2 180 RB/LB
46 Tyler Kjell Jr. 5-6 128 WR/LB
47 Kortae Valadez Jr. 6-4 164 WR/DB
50 Austin Letts'Sr. 6-1 185 TE/DL
52 Dawson Shultz Sr. 6-0 210 TE/DL
53 Joel Struebin Jr. 5-8 162 TE/DL
54 Cole McQuillen Jr. 6-1 284 OL/DL
55 Nic Graffin Jr. 6-1 227 OL/DL
56:Jakob Barlass Jr. 5-9 170 OL/DL
57 Daniel Peters Sr. 5-11 255 OL/DL
58 Mitchell Combs Sr. 6-2 265 OL/DL
59 Cameron Morovits Sr. 6-2 230 OL/DL
61 Christian Pope Sr. 5-11 195 OL/LB
62 Harrison Creed Sr. 6-1 203 TE/OL
66 Bryce Heerey So. 6-1 178 TE/OL
71 Brandon Southers Sr. 6-3 225 OL/DL
73 Brody Skaleski Sr. 6-0 218 OL/DL
75 Nathan White So. 5-10 250 OL/DL
76 Dylan Haggerty Jr. 5-10 282 OL/DL
77 Nathan Davis Jr. 5-9 220 OL/DL
78 Collyn Wacholtz Sr. 6-3 231 OL/DL
79 Tyler Brandenberg Jr. 6-0 212 OL/DL
81 Ethan Terry Jr. 6-2 162 WR/LB
83 Ian May Sr. 5-11 155 WR/DB
85 Ty Mativich Jr. 5-11 135 WR/DB
86 Toby Cook Sr. 5-6 145 WR/DB
88 Keagan Zittlow Jr. 5-11 161 WR/DB