Searching for starters: Loss of keys players gives new athletes a chance to shine
Replacing standout players can be a difficult task.
After losing key players at the quarterback, runningback and offensive line positions, the Mott-Regent football team is preparing a search for its new superstars.
"We've had to rebuild and reload with some of these guys," head coach Ron Benson said." "We do return some experience, but we do need to spend some more time together before things start to gel."
Despite losing several seniors, the Wildfire still have some young returning talent which will play significant roles on the field.
Brothers Ben and Jon Friedt return to the field as seniors. Ben rushed for 183 yards as a tight end last season and Jon comes back as a three-year starter on the offensive and defensive lines.
Overall, Mott-Regent returns seven seniors, all of whom Benson believes will be good examples for the underclassmen on and off the field.
"They've learned from past seniors and we expect them to become a leader of some sort," Benson said. "We've had good luck that way for many years and I think this group will hold their own too, to work hard in practice and do the right things."
One of the more critical spots needed to be filled is at the quarterback position. Taylor Zentner, who is going on to play basketball at Dickinson State, left big shoes to fill. He passed for 1,919 yards with 21 touchdowns last season.
Benson said the season is still young and doesn't know who will start, but the position is up for grabs for the most qualified player, despite their year in school.
"We've had freshman and sophomores start for us and juniors and seniors. We've had all ages fill in," Benson said. "It just depends on the maturity level of where they're at. We'll keep trying to build on that confidence."
Benson also said there are three players on his short list for starters which range from standout senior Tyler Zentner to the untested freshman Brady Wegh.
Zentner, a versatile athlete, split time last season between the wide receiver, runningback and quarterback positions and collected 1,009 receiving yards and 204 rushing yards.
"It'd be nice to have Tyler play runningback or wide receiver and get somebody else to play quarterback. We're working on it," Benson said. "We'll try to give [Wegh] a chance to play, break him in slowly. He's a good athlete. He's got the tools."
Mott-Regent finished with a 5-4 record in Region 4, finding themselves in the dead center of the final standings. Benson believes the only way to secure a place in the playoffs is to focus on each individual practice and build off of improvements.
"We always want to make to the playoffs, that's what we're going to fight for every year, try and make one of those spots," Benson said. "Short-term goal is to try and get better everyday; it's as simple as that. Come to practice and get better. There's always hope, only four teams get to make it and you never know if you play hard and do things right, you're always going to have a chance."