March 18 • 10:43 PM

"Friday night football is back!"

Tri-City football teams gear up for start of '09 season

Jake Jonik, of Dryden, tries to shed a tackler during a practice session last week. Dryden opens its season Friday at Mayville. photo by Kevin Kissane.

August 26, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — It won't be long now until another high school gridiron campaign begins.

Here is a look at how the squads fared a year ago, who they return and their outlook for the 2009 season:

In Almont, Jeremy Ferman is back for season number six as outright head coach.

Last fall Almont was certainly no stranger to successful outcomes, sporting a 9-3 overall mark. That included a 5-2 Blue Water Area Conference record, leaving them tied atop the league standings with Cros-Lex, Yale and Richmond.

Their regular season run proved good enough to land Almont a spot in the Division 5 state playoffs.

It was there Almont started things off with a 31-18 win against Madison Heights Madison.

Week two of the playoffs saw Almont prevail again, this time handing Livonia Clarenceville a 28-21 district championship setback.

The following week Almont bowed out with a 37-7 regional championship setback to Jackson Lumen Christi.

In that confrontation, Jackson Lumen Christi opened up a 30-0 cushion at the halftime break.

Ferman welcomes back 17 letterwinners on this year's roster of 38 players.

Ben McNally (kicker), Mike Grundner (quarterback, safety), Addam Wierbicki (halfback, linebacker), Kyle Pilarski (halfback/linebacker), Steve Cassidy (halfback, cornerback), Garrett Savage (halfback, cornerback), Joe Tersigni (tight end, safety), Erik O'Connor (tight end, linebacker), Chase Orzel (center, defensive tackle), Drew Soper (offensive guard, defensive tackle), Jacob Ferrell (offensive guard, defensive line), Jason Feys (offensive guard, linebacker), Brandon Stone (offensive tackle, defensive tackle), Ryan Born (offensive tackle, defensive tackle), Anthony Bryan (split end, safety) and Tom DePew (tight end, defensive end) comprise Almont's cast of returning lettermen.

As far as the battle for the Blue Water Area Conference championship is concerned, Ferman believes Yale, Almont, Richmond and Cros-Lex (the defending league champions) all could challenge again. He also pegs Capac as a possible contender.

"We have good numbers out for this year's team," Ferman said. "Our team is a bit inexperienced at some key positions (such as quarterback, fullback and guard)," he noted.

"How well our junior class develops could tell the story on what type of season we have."

Almont kicks off the 2009 campaign this Friday when they entertain Standish Sterling Central. The non-league encounter is slated to get underway at 7 p.m.

At Capac, Tom Manney returns for season number three as head coach.

A year ago, Capac wound up with a 5-4 overall mark. That featured a 3-4 Blue Water Area Conference showing, good enough for a share of fifth place with Armada.

Manney welcomes back 12 previous letterwinners on this year's roster of 23 players.

Brian Kulman (runningback, defensive line), James Morgan (runningback), Cody Rosseau (runningback, linebacker), Matt Burgess (split end), Pat White (offensive line), Curtis Patton (offensive line), Sean O'Brien (offensive line, defensive line), Thomas Bolday (offensive line, linebacker), Joshua Kaiser (kicker), Nick Osborn (linebacker), Ed Niemi (defensive end), Mike Burgess (defensive back) are Capac's top returnees.

As far as the battle for the Blue Water Area Conference championship is concerned, Manney pegs Cros-Lex and Almont along with his squad as teams that should be factors in the hunt for league honors.

"We don't have a lot as far as numbers are concerned," Manney said. "However, the players we do have are good ones," he emphasized.

"The key for us is to stay clear of injuries. If we do that, we should field a competitive squad."

Capac opens their 2009 campaign this Friday when it goes to Fowlerville. The non-league meeting lists a 7 p.m. starting time.

In Imlay City, John Forti is back for season number three as head coach.

A year ago, Imlay City managed a 3-6 overall mark. That included a 2-5 league showing, leaving the Spartans seventh among BWAC schools.

He returns 10 lettermen on this year's roster of 23 players.

Aaron Thompson (quarterback), Nick Nivison (runningback, linebacker), Robert Huff (runningback, linebacker), John Loveless (runningback), Jeff Titus (receiver, defensive end), Mike Nagy (offensive line), Jonny Mosier (offensive line, defensive end), Mike Freel (offensive line, defensive end), Craig Cutler (two-way linemen), Jordan Deel (two-way linemen) are Imlay City's top returnees.

Forti lists Cros-Lex, Almont and Yale as the likely BWAC title contenders.

"The numbers are low for us this fall," Forti said. "We also head into the season with an inexperienced squad," he noted.

"Our greatest asset is we have a group of very coachable kids. If we can stay healthy we should have a good season."

Imlay City kicks off the 2009 season this Friday when it travels to North Branch. The non-league encounter is scheduled for 7 p.m.

At Dryden, Brian Tresnak is back for season number six as head coach.

Last fall Dryden put together a 10-1 overall mark. That included a 9-0 regular season run, including a pacesetting 7-0 North Central Thumb League record.

Dryden's impressive regular season run gained them admittance to the Division 7 state playoffs.

It was there Dryden opened with a 50-12 win against Memphis.

The following week Dryden bowed out with a 46-8 loss to Ubly, the eventual state runnerup, in a district championship game.

Tresnak returns 10 lettermen on this year's roster of 29 players.

Cody Paupert (quaterback, linebacker, defensive back), Geno Volante (runningback, defensive back), Jake Albert (fullback, linebacker), Jake Jonik (fullback, linebacker), Wes Butler (guard, defensive tackle), Brian Ladner (guard, defensive tackle), Mike Smith (two-way tackle), Brandon Gierman (tight end, wide receiver and defensive back), Austin Dunnigan (tight end, defensive back), Randall Flannigan (center, defensive tackle) are Dryden's top returnees.

Tresnak lists Memphis and Kingston, along with Dryden, as the teams with the best shot at earning the distinction of North Central Thumb League champions.

Heading into the 2009 campaign, Tresnak said he likes what he has seen from his ballclub thus far.

"Paupert has really developed into an excellent dual threat quarterback and with the speed of Volante and Cory Clark (a newcomer to the varsity) we could be a threat if they can find some open turf to work with," Tresnak said. "Gierman could also have a big year for us if we can protect Cody Paupert," he noted.

On the defense, things also look good for Dryden.

"Randall Flannigan has been a beast in the weight room since last season," Tresnak said. "The kid played a lot of snaps last year and could have a huge year for us on both sides of the ball," he noted.

Tresnak continued, "Ladner and Smith are big boys too, with quite a few starts between them. The play of Ladner, Smith and Flannigan is really going to dictate where we finish this year. There has been a lot of competition for the linebacking spots, but Cody Paupert, Cody Barker and Cory Clark have started to separate themselves from the pack. They have great speed and noses for the ball. The secondary is solid with Volante, Gierman and Dunnigan. They have lots of experience between the three of them."

Dryden opens the 2009 campaign this Friday with a road trip to Mayville. The non-league clash, one of five on their schedule (the others are against Southfield Christian, Redford Covenant, Hale and Morrice), lists a 7 p.m. starting time.

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