It has been a busy offseason for the Big Foot football team, bringing in a new head coach and dealing with a transition to a new turf field.
This season may be the first under head coach Mike Welden, but that does not mean the team will be unrecognizable to loyal Chiefs fans.
For starters, the team brings back five of last year’s 11 All Conference players, as well as the leading rusher and two of the top four receivers.
Additionally, the offensive schemes will not be too different from the playbooks of the past, according to Welden and the players.
Things will change offensively, though, in part because of the graduation of last year’s starting quarterback, Logan Eischeid.
After a couple of days of practice, it was not clear who this season’s starting quarterback would be. Sophomore Basil Demco and senior Owen Martin both have a good shot at the opening. But Welden made it clear that someone besides those two could snag the job with a good showing in practice and scrimmages.
No matter who wins the job, though, they will have experience around them to help ease the transition. Last year’s leading rusher, Cole Vance, returns as a senior this year, as well as a pair of sure-handed receivers in senior Jack Gillingham and Martin, plus 2018 first-team All-Conference lineman senior Sam Dickerson.
Gillingham believes that the Chiefs’ experience in the skill positions will give them an athleticism advantage.
“I think we’re going to be hustling out there. Not a lot of people are going to be able to keep up with us,” Gillingham said.
For all the similarities on offense, the defense will have a fairly different look. Former coach Greg Enz ran a 4-2-5 defensive concept, while Welden has installed a 3-4 alignment.
While the team could have easily fought back against the change, Welden says the players have been very receptive to the new system.
“All they care about is having more success, and they’ve been willing to do anything I’ve asked,” Welden said.
From the players’ perspective, the transition was a little rough at first, but the change of pace has energized the group.
“When we first started doing things as a team, the defense was a little rough. But now it’s starting to come together, and I’m excited about it,” Martin said. “We’ve got a good thing going.”
Even if they are playing different roles, a number of experienced defensive starters are back for Big Foot. Gillingham and senior Dan Hereley were second-team All-Conference on the defensive side a season ago, and senior Kyle Higgins was an honorable mention.
While the team hopes to bring home a conference championship this year, the big goal is to make a return to the playoffs. After making the postseason every year from 2003 until 2016, Big Foot has been on the outside looking in the past two seasons.
The team also embarks on its 2019 season with construction underway on a new Big Foot turf field that should be ready after a few road games to start the season.
Despite any changes, or any postseason aspirations, with Week One around the corner, the Chiefs are just excited to get back on the gridiron.
“Obviously with a new coach, things will be different. But in the end, it’s all football,” Dickerson said.