Prep Football Preview: Harper Creek expecting a big season

Prep Football Preview: Harper Creek expecting a big season

Video

Prep Football Preview: Harper Creek expecting a big season

By

If Harper Creek is going to make another long run in the playoffs in 2011, the Beavers are going to do it with the run.

The Beavers enjoyed an undefeated regular season last year and advance to the state semifinals, seeing their run to the Ford Field end one win short of the goal.

While not everyone returns for this Harper Creek team, the Beavers do have enough talent coming back where they think they have a chance to have success again this season.

“There’s a taste in mouths of the kids coming back and coaching staff on how close we got last year and how fun last year was. It was a pretty magical season last year and we’d like to duplicate that if we can,” said Harper Creek coach Ed Greenman. “But it’s a work in progress because we have so many new kids. You always want to start a new year where you ended the last year, but that doesn’t happen. You have to build new chemistry, not sure if we have the depth we had last year, but we feel good about this team.”

With a strong running game, Harper Creek fully intends to make another postseason run in 2012.

“We want to run the ball, like we usually do and to do that, our line is going to very important. How well our line plays and how well we run the ball will determine how good a team we can have and how deep we can go in the playoffs,” said senior offensive lineman Josh Bass.

Harper Creek brings back a loaded backfield on offense with Kasey Carson, who is on the verge of breaking several career rushing records for the Beavers, and Connor Bauserman, who had a breakout season last year.

“We have two running backs in Connor Bauserman and Kasey Carson, that are arguably the best pair of running backs we’ve had here at Harper Creek,” Greenman said.

Carson had 1,493 yards last season as a junior with 23 touchdowns and is already the second-leading rusher in school history. Bauserman also had a standout season with nearly 600 yards and six touchdowns

“We are going to be a running team. We are hoping to get Kasey the record and it looks like I could get 1,000 yards this season, too,” Bauserman said. “If we could have two backs get 1,000 yards and that’s what it’s going to take for us to make a run at the state championships, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Lining up in the backfield with Carson and Bauserman will be a new quarterback in junior Trevor Johnson, who will be a threat to run himself as well as pass.

The success of all of them will come from the play of the offensive line. Leading that group will be Bass, who has already committed to play in the Mid-American Conference at Eastern Michigan after a standout summer working out for college scouts.

Bass, at 6-foot-5, played center at over 300 pounds last year. He will play tackle for the Beavers this year, with a more athletic 280-pound frame.

“He worked extremely hard in the offseason and we are excited for him and his decision to commit early to Eastern Michigan,” Greenman said. “It might be hard for people to believe, but he is down to 280 this year. Dropping those 20 pounds, he is so much more athletic .”

Brennan Leson is expected to line up at center for Harper Creek with Tristan Bredehoft at one guard and Bass and Trevor Stout at the tackle spots.

The Beavers return Zach Testolin at tight end, who started as a sophomore last year, and will add Anthony McNichols and Jared Koerner at wide receiver.

On defense, Harper Creek will adjust its philosophy and go to a 4-3 alignment in 2012.

“I like the flexibility of the defense. It fits the kind of offenses we face in our league, but it will be different for us so we do have a learning curve,” Greenman said.

Harper Creek will start several players both ways.

Bass will also play the defensive line, along with Austin Sackrider. At defense end, Leson and Stout should start.

Expect Testolin to be the middle linebacker with Bredehoft and Koerner as the two outside linebackers.

Carson and Bauserman will patrol the defensive backfield with McNichols also lining up back there.

Harper Creek will be playing for a third straight title this season in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division, and hope to be in the running when it reaches the end of the season.

“We aren’t going to sneak up on anybody obviously, which says a lot about our tradition, I think,” Greenman said. “When we have won our league in the past, we have won it groups of three, not always, but a lot of the time. We won in 1994, 95 and 96, we won it three years in a row in the 80s, so it would be nice to have a third grouping of three in a row this year.”

Bill Broderick is the sports editor of the Enquirer and can be reached at 269 966-0678

More USA TODAY High School Sports