Whitefish Bay football team will rely on quickness and speed in 2014
Dukes open with three road games
A quicker, faster Whitefish Bay football team will look to keep the steady run of WIAA state playoff berths intact despite not a huge amount of overall experience.
"We've got a great group of kids who are working hard," said veteran Hall of Fame coach Jim Tietjen. "My description of this group is that we have a lot of very good kids and we're going to find out what kind of difference makers they are."
The Blue Dukes, who finished 7-4 last year after enduring huge graduation losses from their best team ever the year before, will build around a series of quick track athletes, including Adam Strehlow (senior), Jaren Walker (senior), Van Bassindale (junior) and Macklin Kortebein (junior) at running back and end.
Juniors Ryan Hummer and Jake Fisher are battling for the quarterback job.
Up front, the Blue Dukes have only one returning lineman in senior guard Steve Meyer. The team's best defensive lineman from a year ago, senior Mitch Rogers, will lend some ballast to the offensive line and will start at tackle for the Blue Dukes.
Others involved along the line include junior Teddy Weber, and seniors Matthew Deakin and Ben Cerbins. Rogers is the biggest of the starters on the line at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tietjen has a little more experience back.
"We played a lot of guys last year," he said.
So, in light of that, three of four starting defensive linemen are back, including Rogers, Deakin and Meyer. Senior Taj Carter will make a "nice addition" to the line, said Tietjen.
The defensive backfield will be anchored by Strehlow and fellow returnee senior Joseph Martinez-Ortiz and will get help from junior Matt Bernstein.
The linebacking corps, said Tietjen "is up for grabs". Standouts so far include senior Conner Claiborne, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but of whom, Tietjen has said "has owned the outside linebacker's spot" so far.
Other linebackers include seniors Tevin Hudnall and Sam Weber as well as Weber.
The Blue Dukes hosted Racine Horlick, Pius XI and Muskego in a scrimmage last weekend and will open its schedule with a difficult three-game road trip starting with non-conference power Brookfield Central at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 22.
That will be followed by Slinger on Aug. 29 and then the rugged North Shore opener at league co-favorite Germantown on Sept. 5.
"Homestead will have a chip on its shoulder and Germantown will have a great scheme and athletes," said Tietjen, "and then there is a whole series of pretty good teams out there."
Tietjen said he and his staff will work hard to maintain the Blue Dukes' position among the elite of the North Shore, but noted that all football success in white-collar communities like Bay is a fragile thing and depends a great deal on the dedication of the players.
To that end, he is pleased with the size of the junior (17 players) and senior (18) classes but has a great deal of concern over the sophomores (just four) and the freshman (13) groups.
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