Photo By Patty Theurer - #4 Derik Shears
Written By: Sven Alskog
Prairie will surely look a little different this year without the services of four-year starter Spencer Schumacher and three-year starters Caleb McWilliams and Carson Schmidt.
Schumacher had become a well-known name in the 8-man football circles at both the quarterback and defensive end positions over the last few years. He will now head to Butte to play college football at Montana Tech. McWilliams excelled at running back as the bruiser for the Pirates and Schmidt was one of the stalwarts of each line.
Any time a program loses great pieces, it always opens up an opportunity for new faces to step up and make a major impact.
“It’s always fun to see what underclassmen will step up and fill positions vacated by last year’s seniors. We are looking forward to getting back to more of a running game than we have done the past few years. We lost some good leaders last year and will look for guys to take on those roles this season,” said head coach Ryan Hasselstrom.
That running game will be highlighted by First Team All-League running back Owen Anderson and fellow backfield mate Cole Martin. Hayden Uhlenkott and Dean Johnson are expected to be the leaders on both lines.
“Cole Martin will be relied upon pretty heavily in the run game along with Owen Anderson. Both are guys that have played a lot of varsity football and will be leaders in our ground game. Derik Shears at wide receiver returns with solid experience and junior Cole Schlader will take on the role as quarterback,” added Hasselstrom.
Martin was mentioned as a player who has increased his strength in the weight room during the offseason, which should pay big dividends this fall.
The coach really likes the potential of Johnson as well.
“Dean will be an impact player from the get-go. He has a great motor, uses leverage really well and will hopefully be a great up-and-comer for our team. We will have multiple other underclassmen that will have to fill some key positions [as well].”
There are multiple players on defense that are going to be relied on to keep Prairie tough, including Anderson at linebacker and Uhlenkott, Johnson, Shears and Reid Uptmor at defensive line.
Sam Mager, also a wide receiver, is a smart and versatile player who will be one of the leaders of the unit from the defensive backfield.
“We are hoping to have good speed and the ability to be aggressive. Coach Teel Bruner does a great job preparing our players for each game and will continue to put players in the right position,” said Hasselstrom.
While the Pirates will not be as big as they have been the last few seasons, the coach expects them to still be a tough out for opponents on a weekly basis.
“We lost some size from last year’s team, but think we have the ability to be competitive in every game we play this season.”
The first of those games takes place from a neutral site at Middleton on September 7 against Raft River.