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Trojan football kicks off this evening

August 24, 2018
By Allison Graham - Sports Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Kickoff for the much anticipated 2018 football season is tonight at Trojan Field. The Trojans will host the Benton Bobcats for their season opener. With a new district, new lineup, an adjusted playbook, new captains and a new addition at offensive coordinator, the Trojans season is sure to be an exciting one. Fans will also be hearing a new but familiar voice over the PA system for varsity games. Matt Probasco will be stepping in after the retirement of Rick Simpson who had filled the post for five seasons after the sudden passing of long-time Trojan announcer Tracy Brady. Probasco had previously announced freshman football games.

New lineup

After graduating 14 seniors last year fans, will see quite a few new faces to the Trojan lineup. Starting at quarterback this season will be senior Drake Crawford. Crawford was the backup to Lane Koch last season. Senior Keith Keahna returns as a captain and projects to be one of the most athletic players across Class 3A. Keahna, who won the Class 3A State High Jump last spring was also a big part of the success of the conference winning basketball team last season.

Article Photos

STC starting quarterback Drake Crawford throws a pass during the Trojan Bowl on Friday, August 17. The Trojans kick off their season tonight against Benton.
News Herald Photos/Allison Graham

In 2018 the Trojan roster appears both full of varsity returners and loaded with underclassmen talent looking to break into the varsity ranks. Senior Tanner Walz has been a three year starter and will continue to be a punishing fullback and linebacker. Jesus Wanatee-Romero took some varsity carries as a sophomore running back last year and will look to add some speed to the 2018 team. Wanatee-Romero captured the 2018 season team record in the 100m and 400m dash for the Trojans Track and Field team.

Other returning varsity starters and role players from last season include senior linemen Brendan Patro (captain), Ben Drummer, Anthony Wilson-Healy and junior lineman Aaron Adams. Seniors Dallas Horne (captain) and Aiden Waseskuk return as varsity linebackers and seniors Gabe Babinat and Jackson Beltz will return as varsity receivers.

As for the younger players, sophomore Payton Vest will have the opportunity to pick up right where his older brother Colton left off after graduating last year. The younger Vest is already one of the strongest and fastest athletes at South Tama and has logged key varsity experience with the wrestling and track and field teams. Look for him as difference maker as a running back, defensive back, and on special teams.

Sophomore Kalem Schrock could have a break out year on the line as he also looks to follow in an older brothers footsteps. Kalem's older brother Kordell Schrock was an all-district standout lineman for the Trojans in 2015. In 2018, Kalem steps into the varsity roster standing a few inches shorter but every bit as strong as his older brother.

Vinny Branan will likely be an impact player as a sophomore. Branan is a fast and strong linebacker and receiver who, on top of his role with varsity football team, projects to be a varsity workhorse for the 2018/19wrestling squad this season after wrestling a year behind a decorated group of senior state-qualifying wrestlers last season.

The varsity football team also welcomes back a couple returning players who were not on the 2017 roster and could play significant roles in 2018. Senior Cael Kellogg is back on the roster after a year off and will provide some senior leadership and athletic ability on the line after an all-district performance on the baseball team and two years as a starter on the varsity wrestling team. Junior Tyrin Lasley is also back for STC as a receiver and defensive back after running cross country his sophomore year. Lasley is a quick and athletic player who was an anchor for the STC cross country team last year and looks to see varsity time on the 2018/19 basketball team as well.

On special teams, STC will look to junior Osmar Galvez as a potential kicking asset. Galvez will bring some talent from his stint with the Trojans varsity soccer team last spring where he was a scoring leader. Galvez joins a line of former Trojans including Joel Medina (18'), Jose Chavarria (17'), John Corral-Cruz (17'), and Adrian Castanon (15') that have crossed over from the varsity soccer team to kicking duties with the football team.

"The numbers are looking pretty good. We are a little lower this year on skills but it's okay because we have some talented kids. We have 18 linemen and we haven't had that many in a long time. And we've got some good linemen that we can play a first string offense and a first string defense so it's only going to make us better in the long run," said Doran.

Notable players missing from the varsity roster include 2018 seniors Cole Savage, Colin Price, Larry Werner; junior Garrett Arp; and sophomore Brayden Smith who was the starting quarterback for the freshman team last season.

New playbook

It is rumored that Coach Doran is shaking up the playbook this season. While he wants to keep the details close to the chest until people can see them in action, he did say there are changes coming.

"We are definitely changing some things up," said Doran. "Our defense will have some similar components but will give teams different looks than last year. Things have to change a bit because we have more defensive line depth this year than we do linebacker depth so we are going to switch that up a bit. Offensively we've got some weapons in the back field and at receiver so we are going to change things a bit there as well. But otherwise it's going to be South Tama Football. We are going to come after guys. We are going to give you everything we've got."

New Captains

Keith Keahna, Drake Crawford, Dallas Horne and Brendan Patro were named as the 2018 captains.

"I would say this is one of the most energetic and positive attitude groups we've had in a long time since I have been here in the last couple of years. Camp was great, there was positive energy. There were no egos. We've had a lot of guys out that I wasn't expecting to be out and then we have our core group of captains that have just been awesome leaders," said Doran.

New coaching staff

For the most part the STC coaching staff remains the same. Head Varsity Coach Nate Doran is entering his third season at the helm. But this year there was a change at the assistant position. Longtime assistant coach Mike Stein resigned from his role as offensive coordinator. Danny Mayo will step from the freshman team into the offensive coordinator role this season. Nate Van Dyke also resigned from coaching freshmen football and with the departure of Mayo left openings for Todd Dale and Justin Suchanek as the head and assistant freshman coaches respectively. Dale coached the girls varsity basketball team last season and Suchanek has been with the STC staff as a volunteer for the past couple years.

New District

With this being the start of another redistricting year by the IHSAA, the Trojans will see some opponents that they haven't faced in a few years as well as couple familiar schools among the non-district slate.

The 2018 schedule is as follows:

8/24 Benton Community

8/31 @ Independence

9/7 @ Bondurant-Farrar

9/14 Nevada

9/21 @ Newton

9/28 @ Pella

10/5 Knoxville

10/12 @ Grinnell

10/19 Oskaloosa

As mentioned the Benton Bobcats are no stranger to the Trojans. The two teams have met for the past two seasons and are familiar WaMaC conference rivals. For Doran he enjoys playing Benton and still has a bitter taste in his mouth after last season's meeting. Last year the Trojans nearly spoiled the Bobcats homecoming. A last minute touchdown by the Bobcats gave them the 31-29 win. The Bobcats hold a 12-9 all-time series record against South Tama.

District breakdown

Grinnell (1-8 in 2017): Graduated 16 seniors, Including top rusher, top 2 receivers, top 7 tacklers

All-Time Series Record: 11-19 (last played in 2017, STC won 29-16)

Knoxville (5-4 in 2017): Graduate 21 Seniors, Including QB, top RBs, WRs, and top 6 tacklers

All-Time Series Record: 6-3 (last played in 2009, STC won 25-15)

Newton (7-2 in 2017): Graduated 22 seniors, Including QB, top 2 rushers, top 2 receivers, top 4 tacklers

All-Time Series Record: 0-4 (last played in 2013, STC lost 19-22)

Oskaloosa (6-4 in 2017): Playoff Qualifier (Lost to CR Xavier in Quarterfinals), Graduated 19 Seniors, Including QB, top rusher, top receiver, and top 4 tacklers

All-Time Series Record: 4-1 (last played in 2002, STC won 21-7)

Pella (11-2 in 2017): Playoff Qualifier (State Runner-Up, Lost to CR Xavier in Finals) Graduated 20 seniors, Including top 2 rushers, top 2 receivers, top 2 tacklers. Pella was a three-time state champion and a runner-up in 2017

All-Time Series Record: 2-6 (last played in 2009, STC lost 49-7)

South Tama (2-7 in 2017): Graduated 14 seniors, Including QB, top 2 rushers, top 4 receivers, top 6 tacklers

Despite the fanfare for last year's senior class, the projections didn't quite match the outcome. The Trojans finished 2-7 last year. Unfortunately for STC, the Trojans were plagued by injury and several key players including Tanner Probasco, Mario Moncada, Dalton Rosenburg, Gabe Backen, and Ben Drummer were either sidelined or hampered by injury for significant portions of the season. The 2017 team was also without the talents of STC State Wrestling Champion, Isaac Judge who was a key varsity player during his sophomore and junior years but chose to sit out during his senior campaign.

So far this season the Trojans are healthy. The group of seniors comes into the season a bit less decorated but just as strong in numbers. There are 15 on the roster compared to 14 in 2017. If you look closer though, the Trojans have a State Champion (Keahna), a couple key players returning to the varsity roster after sitting a year out, and a strong contingent of sophomores and juniors that are chomping at the bit to make a name for themselves.

"I just want to see game one," said Head Coach Nate Doran. "We've got a lot high energy, kids are positive and I just want to get that first game under our belt. To be honest we've got quite a few kids that haven't been with Drake (Crawford) under center and we'll likely have an adjustment period so the players can get comfortable with each other. But Drake has been nothing but great so I want to see him get that first game under his belt, Coach Mayo wants to get that first game calling plays under his belt, and as a team we want to see what we can do against Benton. We're all looking forward to Friday."



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