TRAVERSE CITY – After winning its first outright Big North Conference title, and giving Midland a tussle in the Division 2 district finals, can Traverse City Central repeat this fall?
It’s a different team, with a different make-up, but the Trojans are hoping for similar results.
“We talk about the pride that last year’s season put back into Trojan football,” coach Tom Passinault said. “We haven’t specifically used the word repeat. But one year does not make a program. If we want to be a program that others talk about, then to follow with a second consecutive year like that would be impressive.”
The Trojans finished 9-2, 6-0 in the Big North. They were led by a talented senior class that included dual-threat quarterback T.J. Schepperly, speedster T.J. Schwannecke, fullback-linebacker Nate Pupel, receiver Drew Reamer, bookend tackles Tyler Gildersleeve and Mitchell Brien and two-way lineman Ken Merrica.
That’s a lot to replace.
The Trojans, though, are eager for the challenge.
“The mindset is different,” said Charlie Long, one of three captains. “Last year we knew we could sit back and let the seniors take control. Now, we have to take control. We have a target on our backs. People want to beat us. They know we’re better than we’ve been in the past. They’re going to be coming after us. But we’re not going to back down.”
The Trojans, who averaged nearly 40 points a game last season, still feature a contingent of good skill players, despite the departures of Schepperly, who accounted for 2,288 yards and 25 touchdowns running and throwing the ball; and Schwannecke, who was a threat running, receiving and returning.
Sean Williams takes over at quarterback. Joe Schepperly returns at fullback. Drew Girard and Ethan Campbell are ready to share the carries at halfback. Tight end Rhys Adle and receiver Zach Egbert will be two primary targets for Williams. All are juniors except Egbert.