FRESHMAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Two QBs Will Play Behind a Physical Offensive Line for Saline Freshmen

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Transitioning into the world of high school football is quite the process. The speed and intensity of practices and games are night and day from middle school and youth football. On top of all of the challenging aspects of transitioning into high school, COVID-19 is an uncertainty that also plagues the minds of many athletes. 

Looking into the 2021-22 football season, the freshman program looks to improve upon their 3-3 record from last season. Head Coach Paul Test will lead the freshman hornets, and assistant coaches John Brannan, Garry Barrow, Chad Reed, and Vince Wortmann.

The freshman football program will continue to work towards similar goals that they've had in the previous seasons. The main goals this year will be learning varsity level offensive and defensive plays, going undefeated, and building players that will one day compete at the varsity level.

A major strength of the freshman program this year is their ability to consistently run the ball.

"This season we have some really strong interior linemen and running backs," Coach John Brannan said. "This year I think we will be able to depend on our run game when we need it, and we also have athletic receivers we feel comfortable throwing to."

Along with the strengths of the freshman group, there are always challenges playing at a higher level. The transition between middle school and high school football is challenging. Along with seasoned youth football players, freshman football also welcomes many players that are brand new to the sport. Since there is a big difference in intensity between middle school and high school football, getting athletes up to speed in a short preseason can be a difficult task. While the middle school team plays with concepts similar to those of the high school, there is still a lot of learning that has to take place during the progression. Fortunately, the freshman squad has the opportunity to work with an experienced coaching staff that has been assisting players in making the transition for many years.  

Offensively, the Hornets will be led by quarterbacks Chiloh Jones and Hunter Easton. Jones is a dual-threat style quarterback who isn't afraid to run and Easton is a prostyle quarterback who likes to throw the deep ball. The duo will greatly help the freshman team compete in a variety of different situations. The freshman Hornets also possess two solid internal linemen, Mike Reder and Bennet Pickles. 

"Reder and Pickles are very physical linemen who run really well," Coach Brannan said. "Those guys coupled with our three running backs, Ayden Burton, Nate Walper, and Anderson Holloway will give us a big push offensively when we need it." 

Some of the offensive playmakers will also assist on the other side of the ball.  Reder and Pickles will help upfront playing defensive line, and runningbacks Burton, Walper, and Holloway will contribute as linebackers.  "A great thing about freshman football is that guys do get to play a good amount on both sides of the ball," Coach Brannan said. "Our ultimate goal is to develop players, so allowing players to play on both sides of the ball really helps with development."

The starting lineup for the freshman team changes week to week. Similar to the JV level, the goal is to develop players as best as possible, so players are rotated in and out throughout the game. Freshman year is also a time for players to try out different positions and find something that might fit them for the upcoming years. 

The Freshman Hornets will face Hudsonville in their opening game of the season at 4:30 p.m.,  Aug. 26th at Hornet Stadium.

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