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Tri-City area teams to kick off season


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Almont’s Steve McClure (L) and Ben Strouse (R) limit the offensive options of Lakeville in a non-league confrontation last season.

August 27, 2008
TRI-CITY AREA — It is hard to believe but the start of another high school football season is just a few hours away.

Here is a look at how the Tri-City squads fared a year ago, who they have coming back and their outlook for the 2008 campaign.

At Almont, Jeremy Ferman returns for season number five as outright head coach.

A year ago, Almont posted a 10-1 overall mark. That featured a 7-0 Blue Water Area Conference showing, good enough for first place.

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Almont's spotless regular season run landed them an appearance in the Division 5 state playoffs.

It was there Almont started things off with a 35-22 win at the expense of Lake Fenton.

The following week Almont bowed out with a 54-28 district championship setback to Madison Heights Madison.

In that encounter, Madison Heights Madison jumped out to a 35-14 halftime advantage and never looked back.

Ferman welcomes back six previous letterwinners on this year's roster of 22 players.

Neal Zott, who was a wide receiver and a defensive back a year ago, is Almont's top returnee. This fall Zott will man the controls of the Raiders' offense at quarterback and will line up on the opposite side of the football as a defensive back.

Ben Strouse (offensive line and defensive line), Steve McClure (fullback and linebacker), Dillon Melly (tight end and defensive line), Jake McCarthy (split end and defensive back) and Tom Chilcote (offensive line and linebacker) also return.

As far as the battle for the Blue Water Area Conference championship is concerned, Ferman lists Cros-Lex and Richmond as two teams who should contend. After that, he says it is to close to call.

"We were hit hard by graduation," Ferman said. "How well we overcome those losses will go a long way to determining how much success we have this fall," he emphasized.

Almont opens the 2008 campaign this Thursday with a road trip to Lakeville. The non-league encounter lists a 7 p.m. starting time.

In Capac, Tom Manney is back for season number two in charge of the Chiefs' program.

A year ago, Capac fashioned a 3-6 overall mark. That included a 2-5 league showing, leaving the Chiefs tied with Imlay City for sixth place.

He returns 15 previous letterwinners on this year's roster of 33 players.

Jon Botwin (quarterback), Darren Hunsucker (runningback and linebacker), Jacob Zuby (runningback and linbacker), Joe Johnson (runninback and defensive back), Shawn Kaiser (offensive line and defensive line), Tom Manney Jr. (offensive line), Richard Vielhaber (offensive line), Joe Schram (runningback and defensive back), Don Tompkins (offensive line) and Chee Vang (noseguard) are Capac's top returnees.

Manney casts Almont in the role as Blue Water Area Conference title favorite. He also expects Cros-Lex and Richmond to be factors in the race.

"We got a good senior class," Manney said. "They have spent a lot of time in the weight room getting prepared for the upcoming season," he noted.

"We hope to get out to a good start this fall. That is what we are shooting for."

Capac kicks off their 2008 season this Thursday when it hosts Atherton. The non-conference battle is slated to get underway at 7 p.m.

At Imlay City, John Forti returns for season number two as head coach.

A year ago, Imlay City posted a 2-7 overall mark. That featured a 2-5 Blue Water Area Conference showing, good enough for a share of sixth place with Capac.

Forti welcomes back 15 previous letterwinners on this year's roster of 38 players.

Darren Saunders (quarterback), D.J. Salet (receiver and cornerback), Joe Christunas (receiver and cornerback), Cruz Medrano (runningback), David Sears (runningback and linebacker), Dane Walker (offensive line and defensive line), Josh Timmer (offensive line and defensive line), Adam Van Dyk (receiver and defensive back) and Colton Conrad (offensive line and defensive line) are Imlay City's top returnees.

As far as the battle for the Blue Water Area Conference championship is concerned, Forti lists Cros-Lex and Richmond as the probable contenders.

"We have good numbers but many of those players lack experience at the varsity level," Forti said. "How well they blend in with our senior class, which I believe is a good one, will go a long ways toward determining what kind of a season we have," he noted.

"We hope to start the season out on a winning note. That is our goal."

Imlay City opens the 2008 campaign this Thursday when it hosts North Branch. The non-league clash lists a 7 p.m. starting time.

In Dryden, Brian Tresnak is back for season number five in charge of the Cardinals' program.

A year ago, Dryden fashioned a 5-4 overall mark. That included a 3-4 league showing, leaving the Cardinals in fifth place.

He returns 20 previous letterwinners on this year's roster.

Allen Clark (fullback and linebacker), Eric Tietz (halfback and linebacker), Wes Jonik (halfback and linebacker), Matt Lynch (tight end and linebacker), Frank Calabro (offensive tackle and defensive tackle), Evan Crean tight end and defensive tackle), Nick Vicari (center and defensive tackle), Chad Butler (quarterback, halfback and defensive back), Joe Battisti (tight end and defensive end), Nate Forrest (tackle and defensive end), Cody Paupert (quarterback and defensive back) and Brandon Gierman (tight end and defensive back) are Dryden's top returnees.

Tresnak sees a number of teams battling it out for the distinction of NCTL champions this fall.

"Peck, Memphis and Kingston are the teams to watch and North Huron should still be competitive despite graduation losses," Tresnak said. "We should be very competitive in the league as well," he emphasized.

"Injuries really hurt us down the stretch last year. We averaged over 30 points a game last year, we just couldn't stop anybody when it mattered. We are just like any other small school in our league, if we can stay healthy we are going to win some games. Our guys have been really dedicated in the offseason by working out in the weight room and that should pay dividends. We are going as far as our guys' dedication and work ethic carry them."

Dryden opens the 2008 season this Thursday when it hosts Mayville. The non-league meeting is slated to get underway at 7 p.m.

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