Frederick is major Rock mover
Travis Frederick has his sights set high.
“I want to be a Division I college football player. What do I have to do?” the Walworth Big Foot High School junior lineman asked his football coach at the start of the season.
“Just keep on doing what you’re doing,’’ Rodney Wedig, who has just been named Rock Valley Conference Coach of the Year after directing Big Foot to a 9-0 regular season, might have replied.
After all, the 6-5, 302-pound Frederick already has two exceptional varsity seasons in the books. And this one has culminated with him being a runaway choice by the coaches as the conference’s Lineman of the Year for the second straight season.
“He’s as good as (Kevin) Skatrud or A.J. (Curtis),’’ Brodhead-Juda coach Jim Matthys said in comparing Frederick to the former Cardinal all-state stars. “He’s one of the most athletic linemen I’ve seen in a long time.’’
But that’s just part of the story. Frederick also has a 4.1 grade-point average, with his sights set on a career in aerospace engineering.
“He’s the whole package—an intelligent player with great athletic ability and good quickness for his size,’’ Wedig said.
What’s more, Frederick is determined to make the most of it.
“He’s a kid who just wants to keep getting better, and we saw a lot of that this year,’’ Wedig said of Frederick, a first-team repeater as an all-conference offensive and defensive tackle
“We moved him around a lot more this year and worked on more pulling (of the offensive linemen), and he really responded. He played a huge role in our success,’’ Wedig said of Big Foot’s first championship season since 1975.
“We wound up with 2,800 yards rushing by committee, and guys ran behind Travis, even though other teams knew it was coming. We were seeing all kinds of things with people trying to offset what he can do, but he just kept doing it.’’
While he picked up where he left off in a superb sophomore season, Frederick wasn’t the only one to duplicate last year’s personal success. The all-conference selections also feature six other first-team repeaters, including Evansville junior quarterback Andrew Keister, the Back of the Year.
Keister earned the top backfield honor by not only igniting the second-place Blue Devils’ high-powered offense with 1,318 yards passing and 550 rushing, but he also is a two-way all-conference selection with his play in the defensive secondary.
“Andrew’s following in a long list of outstanding quarterbacks we’ve had,’’ Evansville coach Ron Grovesteen said. “He’s certainly measured up to the high standard we set for our quarterbacks.’’
Overall, “his job is to put us in the best position to win, and he does that,’’ said Grovesteen, whose teams have won 32 of their last 33 conference games.
Another testament to Keister’s all-around ability is the fact that he won the all-conference quarterback spot over Edgerton’s talented junior, Bryan Gregory, who completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,590 yards and 22 touchdowns, despite sitting out two games with a concussion.
While Gregory wound up as a second-team selection, the fourth-place Crimson Tide still pulled off a major postseason honor in having Aaron Laskowski make the first team three ways. The 5-10, 160-pound senior is a repeater in the defensive backfield and also a first-team pick as an offensive end and punter.
“He had an incredible year,’’ Edgerton coach Mike Gregory said. “He almost never came off the field and had as good a three-game stretch at the end of year as any kid could have.’’
Laskowski, the conference scoring champion with 94 points, scored 11 touchdowns in those three games. He finished with 50 pass receptions for 764 yards and a school-record 16 touchdown catches, while piling up 1,431 all-purpose yards en route to setting school career records with 106 receptions and 27 touchdown catches.
“He’s a great athlete who does absolutely everything,’’ coach Gregory said.
Laskowski, Keister and Frederick are joined by three others in receiving multiple first-team honors. Two-way selections also include Evansville senior Lucas Davis, offensive and defensive end; Blue Devil junior Derek Cashore, running back and linebacker; Big Foot senior Kyle Haeberlin, guard and defensive end.
Davis and Cashore are repeaters on defense. The repeaters also include senior running back Gary McAdory and senior linebacker Derrick Rundle of Brodhead-Juda, along with Evansville senior offensive tackle Sam Reed.
Cashore earned his spot on offense by leading the Rock Valley with 870 yards rushing in conference play and reaching 1,450 for the season.
McAdory, a 290-pound fullback, is joined in the all-conference offensive backfield by Brodhead-Juda teammate Tyler Lincoln, a 5-9, 170-pound senior speedster, who carries a 9.4-yard average per carry. The “thunder and lightning” combination has carried the third-place Cardinals to a 10-2 record and the WIAA Division 4 state semifinals by rushing for season totals of 1,396 and 1,345 yards and a combined 36 touchdowns.
“The two have really come on in the later part of the season, and they complement each other,” Matthys said. “When one gets the ball, the other is blocking.’’
Big Foot had the same kind of teamwork in averaging 253 yards on the ground. Mike Crusan, a junior, led what Wedig called the backfield “committee” with 741 yards rushing for the Chiefs’ 10-1 season and joins Keister, Cashore, McAdory and Lincoln in the all-conference offensive backfield.
Haeberlin, a three-year, two-way starter, joined Frederick as the forces up front in helping “the committee” make Big Foot an offensive power.
One time, in particular, that stood out with Haeberlin was when Big Foot got the ball for the last time after Evansville had trimmed the Chiefs’ lead to 21-15 in the title showdown that broke the Blue Devils’ 32-game Rock Valley winning streak.
“We just kept running the same play behind Haeberlin and Frederick, and we kept moving the pile,’’ Wedig said. “We picked up two first downs and ran out the clock.’’
With that, Big Foot’s regular-season mission was complete in the Rock Valley’s final football season before realignment. The Chiefs climbed to the top in earning their fifth consecutive WIAA playoff berth under Wedig, who took over a program in 2003 that hadn’t had a winning season since 1994 or a Rock Valley title contender since 1982.
Along with Wedig’s honor, the Chiefs have been rewarded with eight first-team all-conference spots, followed by Evansville with seven, and Brodhead-Juda and Edgerton with four apiece.