Jets look to utilize lack of size

Jets look to utilize lack of size

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Jets look to utilize lack of size

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For many Wisconsin Badgers fans, January’s Rose Bowl against the Oregon Ducks was one to forget. Just don’t count Roncalli football head coach Ray Baranczyk as someone who won’t remember.

“That game really showed what can happen when you have smaller, faster players,” said Baranczyk. “Just because a player is lacking in size, it doesn’t mean they can’t be effective.”

Baranczyk is hoping to turn a potential weakness into a strength this season by utilizing his team’s speed, including that of returning first-team All-Olympian/Packerland Large Conference running back Alex Katz.

Katz’s backup is junior Joey Macdonald, who Baranczyk credits as being in the same mold as Katz in terms of size, speed and ability to make the first defender miss.

Macdonald is one of 22 juniors for the Jets, which means Roncalli has nearly as many players in one class as some area teams have all together. Those 22 players represent not just quantity but quality as well, with several starters returning after seeing considerable playing time last year as sophomores.

Among those returning are a pair of offensive lineman, Spencer Fricke and Stephen Heili, who started a season ago. Heili was honorable mention OPLC on the offensive and defensive lines, while teammate and fellow junior Nate Miller was an honorable mentioned defensive end.

Another factor with so many returning juniors is it gives needed depth at the skill positions a year after the rather raw team limped to a 4-5 overall and conference record. It was the first time the Jets missed the playoffs since 2006, when Roncalli won just two games.

History might be on the Jets’ side in terms of rebounding. Following the 2-7 2006 season, the Jets featured 21 juniors according to MaxPreps.com, and regained altitude in the standings to finish 7-4 overall and 5-3 in conference.

Baranczyk credited his team’s lack of experience to contributing in at least a few losses last season, when the Jets gave up large chunks of yardage on broken plays at the end of games.

Roncalli lost three games last season by 10 points or fewer to teams which made the playoffs, including a 36-26 defeat at the hands of Kewaunee, who was the defending WIAA Division 4 state champions.

“Some coaches might consider a season a failure if they lose a certain amount of games or to a certain school,” said Baranczyk. “It might sound cliche, but you have to win your first game before you can win your second, and if you look too far ahead you’ll lose sight of the entire season before it’s even begun.”

Baranczyk brings up Oregon again when discussing Roncalli’s multiple offensive sets.

“We’re trying to be a little like the Ducks,” said Baranczyk. “I wouldn’t want to try to game plan against us. It gets to be which offense are you doing to defend.”

He went on to say that at times last season some teams might stop the double-wing option offense, but had no clue how to defend the power-I.

Taking over the offense from now-graduated OPLC honorable mention quarterback Jack Piaskowksi will be either senior Zach Slattery or junior Jared Patek.

Slattery is the Jets’ tallest player at 6-5, while Patek has shown great athleticism so far Baranczyk said.

On defense, Roncalli is led by first-team OPLC linebacker Mason Scheer whom his coach compared to Ray Nitschke.

“Mason just plays with an aggressive streak, a real lunch pail defender,” said Baranczyk.

Only time will tell if a return to the postseason is in the cards for the Jets.

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