Turner looks for return to postseason
Derek Diehl has already made a huge impact on Beloit Turner’s football program.
The Trojans won 10 games in Diehl’s first two seasons as head coach. That’s one more victory than Turner had in the previous 10 years.
Now, as he enters his third season at the helm, Diehl is confident that the Trojans will continue to trend upward.
“My MO remains the same,” Diehl said. “And that’s to try and help these kids make a difference through lessons learned on the gridiron. It’s about learning from your mistakes and using the past to form who we are today.
“The program is definitely going in the right direction. And our expectations are to return to the postseason.”
Turner finished 4-2 in the Rock Valley South two years ago and shared the league title but slipped to 3-6 last season.
The Trojans return eight starters on offense, including Western Illinois recruit Brandon Malkow. The 6-foot-5, 295-pound senior is being moved from tackle to guard and will anchor a strong offensive line. Senior Chase Larsen has beefed up to 235 pounds and gets the nod at center.
“We’ve been grooming this group of kids for a couple years now, because we felt like they had a chance to be solid by the time they were seniors,” Diehl said. “It’s a great group that has put the work in in the offseason.”
Turner will continue to run out of a multi-set offense. Diehl said his team needs to adjust on the fly to opposing defensive schemes, but thinks he has the athletes to do it.
Junior Emiliano Reyes, sophomore Kenny Draeving and junior Brady Card are in a three-way battle at quarterback, with Reyes having the early edge due to his experience from playing there last season.
Kyle Hanaman (5-8, 175) sat out last year due to injury but is slated to open at tailback. Reyes could also transition to the backfield, if needed.
Hunter Waldsmith (6-2, 195) returns at tight end, while senior Nick Frank (6-4, 210) is a big target at wide receiver. Diehl also said senior Juan Reyes (6-1, 190) will get plenty of touches on offense to utilize his speed and athleticism.
“We could have a different look on offense every play,” Diehl said. “That’s what I like about this group. We’ve got enough talent that we can showcase a lot of different kids.”
If the Trojans are going to return to the postseason, the defense has to step up. Turner allowed 30 points per game last year.
Diehl decided to scrap the 4-4 defense he ran the first two seasons in favor of what he calls a 4-3 shallow scheme.
“I think by going to this, it allows our safeties to come up to try and help stop the run,” Diehl said. “That was an area of concern last season.
“We’ve got some very good athletes on both sides of the ball, and I expect us to be much better defensively.”
Diehl is high on his secondary, led by Juan Reyes and senior Sereno Ferone, whom he calls a ‘phenom’ and the fastest player on the team.
Senior Phyllip Brown (5-8, 210) heads a solid linebacking core that also includes Hanaman, Emiliano Reyes and Joey Yuhas.
Malkow and Adrian Estrada (5-8, 265) are the interior defensive linemen, with Waldsmith and sophomore Trey Griinke at defensive ends.
“If we can stay healthy, something we weren’t able to do last season, we have a strong enough arsenal offensively to score a lot of points,” Diehl said. “We just have to shore things up defensively, and I think we will.”