If not for a rash of injuries, last season might have lasted a little longer for the Freeburg Midgets.
Head coach Ronnie Stuart says the Midgets could get another shot at a deep postseason run, but only if the injury bug doesn’t bite again.
“The biggest thing for us is that most of the big names coming back were injured last year and didn’t necessarily get a lot of playing time,” said Stuart, whose team finished 8-2 last season. “I like what we’ve got, but we have got to stay healthy.”
Senior tailback Keegan Baxmeyer may be the best pure athlete in the Cahokia Conference, but he struggled most of last season with a high ankle sprain sustained in a Week 3 win over Central.
He’s at 100 percent now, though, and with a restored and healthy line in front of him, figures to be a centerpiece of the Midgets’ attack.
It’s not all about Baxmeyer in Freeburg, though.
The offense is steered by third-year starting quarterback Joe Wolf, who last year connected on 98 of 164 passes (60 percent) for 1,243 yards and 11 touchdowns. His favorite target, all-conference receiver Will Hogan (22 catches for 364 yards and 3 touchdowns), is back, too.
Senior center Joe Beatty is the only lineman who returns with a full season under his belt, but Stuart says the men up front define the team’s biggest strength.
Seniors Michael Smith, David Stratton, Nick Snyder, Austin Sweet, junior Alan Branneker and sophomore Peyton Ledbetter will be part of a regular rotation on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Smith and Sweet might also see some time at middle linebacker, as will junior Dylan Sandheinrich (22 tackles). Junior Bobby Tedesco (35 tackles, fumble recovery, interception) will be at outside linebacker with Baxmeyer.
Hogan (27 tackles, interception) will move to the free safety position this season, leaving Dalton LaChance (12 tackles, 9 solo) and Brennin Kimes at cornerback.
— Todd Eschman
at Massac County
at Red Bud