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Preview: Five in a row is Fenton's goal - Tri-County Times: Tri-County Times Newspaper: Fenton, Linden And Holly MI News Source

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Preview: Five in a row is Fenton's goal

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Posted: Friday, August 21, 2015 2:59 pm

By David Troppens

dtroppens@tctimes.com; 810-433-6789

 When it comes to the Flint Metro League championship, several teams have earned a share of the crown over the last four years.

 However, only one squad has been among those listed all four years. And last season, that team won the crown outright.

 If you’ve guessed the Fenton Tigers are that squad, you'd be correct.

 The last four seasons, the Fenton Tigers have been the king of the Metro League. And despite the fact that the Tigers lost several key players to graduation, but when the 2015 seasons starts they will the expected favorites to earn at least a fifth straight co-Metro title. In fact, the Metro coaches selected Fenton as the favorites once again during the Metro League’s media day in early August.

 But the Tigers aren’t resting on their laurels. They are working hard to try to make the fifth straight league crown a possibility.

 “I like that we’ve been working hard in the weight room and on the field with our team activities,” senior Peyton Coffman said. “We are getting closer as a team and looking to make the jump toward the season.”

 “Kids needed to step up and they have,” senior Ben Hajciar said. “The strength has gotten a lot stronger in the weight room. One of our main goals is to get a lot of kids in the 1,000-pound club and we’ve done that. We have over 10 kids in it.”

Offense

 The Fenton Tigers ranked as the most potent offensive team in Metro contests last year, scoring 279 points in their seven league contests. And, of course, those numbers were artificially deflated by the number of games the team ended up playing second- and third-strings in the second half. In fact, many games were played under the continuous clock due to the Tigers’ large leads. However, some of the players who made that offense as potent as it was — some being quarterback Ross Ebert; running backs Dominic Weiss and Bryce Roney; and wide receiver Alec Thomas — are gone, and it’ll be up to the Tigers to find quality replacements.

 At quarterback, Ben Hajciar and Josh Czarnota are the two battling for the starting spot. Hajciar is the senior who could follow the historical pattern of strong one-year starting quarterbacks for Fenton, while Czarnota is a sophomore. Hajciar did enter training camp with a broken wrist on his throwing arm, but he’s expected to be ready to compete sometime early in the season. Czarnota is young and not as experienced, but he is talented.

 “We have two excellent candidates,” Fenton head coach Jeff Setzke said. “Both are fantastic, as good as any quarterback we’ve had. They may not throw it as good as the other kids, but it’s pretty close. But what they add is speed and the option. Now we can go back to our roots and run some option to go with our passing game. That’s very exciting.”

 The offensive line has some solid players coming back, starting with senior captain Kobe Lookebill and junior Reid Thompson. Lookebill is 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, while Thompson is one of the biggest players on the team at 6-1, 290 pounds.

 “Both started all 10 games for us last year,” Setzke said. “Reid is a 285-pound kid who will be a special kid.”

 Chase Lynch could play at tight end or on the offensive line, while fellow seniors Christian Cleis and Sam Metcalfe are also in the mix. Mitchell Adams is another senior on the line who missed last year due to injury. However, he’s healthy and could be one of the team’s starting tackles. Also expect to see sophomore Grady Sondegroth compete for starting time as well.

 The squad lost its top four pass catchers in terms of receptions from a year ago, but there is some experience coming back. Junior Greg Lukas and senior Kevin Lack return. Lack caught 14 passes a year ago, including one for a TD. Others who will fill in the wide out spots are Zack West, Aaron Boulay, Keegan Pombier and Brendan Mathews.

 “We are probably eight to nine deep (at receiver),” Setzke said.

 At running back, Shane Kolinski is the leading returning rusher, collecting 190 yards and four scores in 2014. Dylan Crankshaw has a strong freshman year, but missed his sophomore season due to a strange hamstring injury. However, he’s healthy and ready to go in 2015.

 “He’s going to be fun to watch,” Setzke said. “Having him and Shane Kolinski, we have a good group of running backs. Fortunately for me I just coach the offense. It’s fun for me.”

Defense

 As strong as Fenton’s offense was a year ago, the defense may have been even better. Fenton allowed 53 points less than any other team during the seven-game Metro League season a year ago. And overall, the 137 points they allowed was 91 points better than the next-best Metro squad.

 The defensive line has some good pieces to start with. Mason McCormick and Chase Lynch each return. Others expected to find a spot on the line include Nick Bills, Mitch Adams, Grady Sondegroth, Jake Kennard and Jarrett Smith.

 At linebacker, one spot is certainly set. Peyton Coffman returns after leading the team in tackles at an inside position last year.

 “He was the leader of our team last year as a junior, which doesn’t happen often as a junior,” Setzke said.

 Others expected to fit in at linebacker are Shane Kolinski, Tyler Reisch and possibly Sondegroth. Brandon transfer Joe Williams, Joel Graves and Matt Myers should fill in at outside linebacker. Another outside linebacker fighting for playing time is Chris York.

 “We are not sure where he’s going to fit in, but he’s going to fit somewhere on our team,” Setzke said about Sondegroth. “He’s too good not to be with us.”

 Lynch likes the front seven.

 “I feel strong about the front six or seven because we are strong up there,” Lynch said. “We are big, fast and all that.”

 The secondary is the team’s weakest position. Greg Lukas, Jermaine McGlown and Alex Marshall are some of the kids expected to be in the mix.

Outlook

 As mentioned previously, the Tigers have either won or shared the Metro League title each of the last four seasons. They’ve also qualified for the playoffs seven straight times. Those seem like realistic goals again this year. But the Tigers know it won’t come easy.

 “(The tradition) means a lot to us,” Kolinski said. “It gives us a confidence boost and it puts the pressure on us, but we can handle it. We want it.”

 “I just want to have a successful year,” Hajciar said. “I want to be Metro champs for the fifth straight year and have a deep playoff run.”

 Another strong season seems likely for Fenton fans.

Fenton Football - At A Glance

2014 record:

7-0 Metro League champions, 9-1 overall, lost to Farmington Hills Harrison 35-10 in pre-district game.

Graduated All Tri-County Players:

Ross Ebert (QB - Player of the Year), Bryce Roney (receiver/running back), Alec Thomas (receiver, DB), Evan Welch (DL) Scott Becker (DL), Paul Idoni (LB), Troy DeGayner (OL), Dominic Weiss (RB).

Returning All Tri-County Players:

Kobe Lookebill (OL), Chase Lynch (DL), Peyton Coffman (LB).

Anything goes:

The Tigers are trying to become the first team to win at least a share of the Metro League crown for five straight seasons since Oxford completed the feat from 1989 to 1994, winning at least a co-title six straight seasons. Amazingly, Oxford won the last five outright.

Outlook:

The Fenton Tigers earned a share of the Flint Metro League title from 2011-2013 and won the title outright last season with a perfect 7-0 Metro record. Can they make it five titles in a row? The coaches selected Fenton to do it at the second-annual media day event. The Tigers will have to groom a new starting quarterback and some new weapons for him to throw to, but that's nothing new. Fenton, seemingly, always has a new quarterback and always has one of the best offenses in the league. Fenton's senior class has lost just one game in four years with the program and the juniors have lost two. Chances are the Tigers will be right in the middle of the mix when the Metro crown is decided in late October.

Win/loss history

2014

Davison 35-0W

Temp-Bedford 17-8W

Swartz Creek 35-19W

Brandon 41-0W

Kearsley 43-2W

Clio 35-3W

Holly 35-3W

Flushing 49-21W

Linden 35-29W

FH Harrison 10-35L

2013

Linden 39-27W

Adrian 43-7W

Holly 20-0W

Brandon 28-14W

Clio 31-8W

Lapeer East 30-7W

Kearsley 48-0W

Swartz Creek 22-7W

Lapeer West 13-14L

Midland Dow 21-30L

2012

Linden 15-17L

Adrian 34-6W

Holly 36-34W

Brandon 41-0W

Clio 39-7W

Lapeer East 54-21W

Kearsley 54-0W

Swartz Creek 55-28W

Lapeer West 30-21W

FH Harrison 22-19W

WL Western 27-49L

2011

Lapeer West 24-16W

Linden 17-14W

Charlotte 38-19W

Holly 16-18L

Brandon 12-21L

Clio 48-0W

Lapeer East 33-12W

Kearsley 35-6W

Swartz Creek 31-7W

Marquette 45-21W

Okemos 35-7W

Lowell 14-35L

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