Tanner Peterson intercepts a pass for Wilmot during a Southern Lakes Conference contest last season. Peterson, along with Kevin Brenner, will lead the Panthers defense in 2018 (File Photo/The Report).

Wilmot visits Bradford in Friday’s season-opener

By Jason Arndt

Without dual threat quarterback A.J. Frisby and running back Robert Brent, the Wilmot Union High School football team enters its season with a plan to throw more starting Aug. 17 at Kenosha Bradford, but that does not mean they will stop running the ball.

The Panthers, who finished fourth (4-3, 4-6 overall) in the competitive Southern Lakes Conference, still has second team all-conference running back Austin Norton.

Norton, a senior, started last season as the second running back, was thrust into action after Brent suffered an injury.

As a junior, Norton logged 114 carries for a team-leading 781 yards with 10 touchdowns.

Between option quarterback Frisby and Brent, the departing seniors collectively had 202 carries for 975 yards and 12 touchdowns.

As a passer, Frisby had 61 completions for 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.

Although Frisby and Brent have departed, second-year coach Keiya Square still believes it is imperative to establish a run offense, adding he plans to have other players pitch in.

“I think at the (high school) level you have to be able to run the football,” said Square. “We will throw it a little more than we did last year when we need to, but our main goal is to establish the run.”

Offering Norton relief in the backfield will be juniors Austin Videlka and Cal Jenkins, along with senior Tanner Peterson.

As for the throwing options, Square plans to give senior Zach Lamberson and junior Zack Watson looks, adding both have varsity experience after Frisby injured his ankle at the tail end of last season.

“Both players are great competitors and bring different things to the table. Lamberson brings varsity experience to the position and has really improved his arm strength and overall play at the quarterback position,” Square said. “Watson brings great athleticism to the quarterback position and can really hurt a defense with his arm or legs.”

The two quarterbacks will have plenty of targets, considering the Panthers top three receivers are returning, including seniors Kade Carlson and Cullen Ketterhagen.

Carlson, the leading receiver, had 14 receptions for 280 yards and three touchdowns.

Before Ketterhagen suffered a concussion in the sixth game last year at Union Grove, he caught 15 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown, which came against state-ranked opponent Franklin.

The Panthers other receiver, junior Kevin Brenner, accounted for 214 yards on 16 receptions.

Wilmot also returns senior offensive linemen Brandon Spencer, a first team all-conference, and Noah Coleman, who earned a spot on the conference second team.

Other returners include senior Jarrett Ketterhagen (wide receiver), senior Saul Leon (offensive lineman) and Aaron Gardner (wide receiver).

Brenner, Peterson defensive leaders
Brenner and Peterson, meanwhile, are two of the Panthers leading returners on defense.

A year ago, when Brenner earned first team all-conference and all region as a defensive lineman, he tied for the team lead in sacks with six and tallied 71 total tackles.

For Peterson, who notched first team all-conference, the all region linebacker accounted for 71 total tackles and three quarterback sacks. He also had two interceptions.

Square said the duo will still play a formidable role on defense.

“We are replacing a lot of seniors from the defense,” said Square. “We will still look to Kevin Brenner and Tanner Peterson to lead our defense and make it hard on the opposing offense.”

Along with the loss of Frisby and Brent, both of whom played in the secondary, the Panthers will need to offset the loss of Jacob Gerzel and his team-leading six interceptions.

On the defensive front seven, where departing seniors Hunter Valach and Zac Christopherson played, Square will look to seniors Max Iverson, Jorge Zataran, Jimmy Weber along with Jenkins and Videlka.

In the defensive backfield, Square will give Ketterhagen, Carlson along with juniors Joey Tanski, Billy Brown and sophomore Caden Mulhollon opportunities.

Upper half targeted
In the competitive SLC, which included state-ranked Lake Geneva Badger, the Panthers are looking to stay in the upper half.

“We should be able to compete for the top half of the conference,” Square said. “We have a great group of seniors that played a lot of football for us last year and we expect them to take a huge step for us this year.”

“We have a talented junior class that will need to contribute right away,” he added.

Last year, the Panthers season ended in the WIAA Division 2 level one regional at top-seeded Monona Grove, 42-12.


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