WHITMORE LAKE – No team could stop Whitmore Lake’s rushing attack last season, but the jury will be out for the 2020 offense.
Last season, the Trojans rushed for more than 4,000 yards with running backs Logan Kurth and Evan Romeo each gaining more than 2,800 yards and 39 touchdowns combined.
With Romeo graduated and now-senior Kurth, rehabbing an injury, the Trojans will have to turn to some younger players to carry the load to start the season.
Luckily, they’ll have some experienced offensive linemen back to pave the way.
Whitmore Lake returns seniors Michael Corrie and Nelson Bartram and junior Alex Tanner to provide a strong nucleus in the trenches that the Trojans will use to improve on last year’s success that saw them go 8-3 and win their first playoff game since 2006.
But the Trojans won’t have veterans running the ball like last season. Instead, they’ll rely on sophomore quarterback Isaac Brady, sophomore running backs Thomas Reil and Jaskon Ellinger and junior Jackson Schmitz to produce as Kurth works his way back.
Still, Whitmore Lake coach Brian Boron said he’s confident the young backfield will have a chance to shine thanks to the offensive line.
“I feel good about the guys up front,” he said. "They’ll create opportunities for the guys in the backfield. Whether or not they’re tough enough or mature enough to finish runs like somebody like Evan Romeo, Evan Vaughan or Cole Henning did last year, those were senior players that we’re replacing with sophomores, so intuitively, it’s not the same.
“But the scheme is the same, the look should be the same, these kids ran some varsity action, they played a JV schedule, they should be pleasantly surprised because the guys in front of them will actually be able to block for them as opposed to their experience on the JV. I’m optimistic that that part of it is going to take care of itself.”
Corrie saw firsthand what a strong offensive line could do for a run-dominant team like the Trojans last year. The veteran lineman said the task will be for the upperclassmen to get the younger players up to speed.
“We just have the people that are returning from last year bring up the people that are coming up as quickly as possible and get everyone working together as one solid unit,” he said. “(It takes) a lot of communication and knowing what you have to do to get the yardage that you need to win.”
Kurth said it’ll be imperative that the team is a cohesive unit by the time they take the field against Sterling Heights Parkway Christian on Friday.
“Just keep working to make sure we have everything sound and ready to go,” he said.
Whether or not this year’s offense will be as dominant as last season’s remains to be seen, but Boron has confidence his o-line will help his backs rise to the occasion – in due time.
“In our situation, the (offensive) line has a lot of game experience,” Boron said. "It’s the same offense with a lot of the same calls. They actually are at a point where they want to get more progressive and start doing more of the advanced stuff and I’ve had to hold them back and say, ‘We’ve got to have everyone moving at the same speed.’
“I’ve got a very young backfield and we can’t just all go zero to 100, we’ve got to creep up gently.”