It might seem odd for a basketball team to carry just a seven-player varsity, but that’s what Oakfield boys coach Kyle Seyfert plans to do this season. At least early on.
He has a JV team he could bring players up from for some added depth, but he’s going to stay away from that as much as possible.
He has a good reason for doing so.
“These guys were thrown to the wolves last year,” Seyfert said about his seven varsity players, six of whom return from last year’s 2-19 team. “I don’t want to do that again. We’ll try and keep our JV how it is, but we’ll see how it goes with our first couple games. If JV players earn it — fine. But we’ll try and go with seven.”
Playing with a small roster will be nothing new to a few Oak players — senior Taylor Schaefer, junior Griffin Anderson and sophomore Tyler Burbach — who were part of a 14-player 8-man football team that rallied from a 1-4 start to win its last four games, including the 8-man playoff jamboree Nov. 2.
Seyfert wants those good vibes transition onto the basketball court.
“It’s just competing. That’s the biggest thing. They competed and they won,” Seyfert said of that trio. “It’s a mindset. Hopefully that success continues for us here.”
While Oakfield likely will have the area’s smallest roster, its players appear to make the Oaks an improved team for 2013-14. Oakfield returns five players who had significant varsity experience, including two who made all-conference in the Trailways North.
Schaefer leads the bunch after earning second-team honors a year ago, scoring 11.3 points per game, grabbing steals 3.1 and 6.8 rebounds despite his 5-foot-10 stature. He’s coming off a standout football season where he ran for 1,723 yards and 32 touchdowns and totaled 36 scores — all school records. He also came up with 81 tackles, six sacks and five interceptions on his way to being named the Co-Great 8 South Player of the Year.
“He’s a kid in a 6-3 mindset with a 5-10 body,” Seyfert said with a laugh. “He’s just a hard worker and an all-around good player. He’s probably our best defender right now. He’ll guard the other team’s point guard.”
Oakfield’s other top returner is senior Justin Holz (5-11), an honorable mention pick last year who led the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and assists (3.1).
“Justin can be a really good player for us,” Seyfert said. “We need to get some more scoring out of him and Taylor. They’re the leaders of this team. There’s a few good point guards in this league and he (Holz) needs to concentrate on defending. He’s a good ball-handler.”
The Oaks’ other returning players with varsity experience are Burbach, a 6-2 sophomore who averaged 4.2 ppg, sophomore Rollin Petersen (5-11, 3.8 ppg) and junior Tyler Holz (6-3, 3.1 ppg). Anderson (6-1) and sophomore Nick Ryan (6-0) round out the varsity.
Oakfield opened the season Friday with a 57-42 home win over Montello, outscoring the Hilltoppers 23-12 in the fourth quarter to pull away. Holz led the way for the Oaks with 17 points, Schaefer had 14 and Burbach added 10.
While Seyfert is happy to return so much experience, he knows his team is still youthful.
” We’re still awful young,” he said. “Three of those guys are still sophomores. But I think we’re heading in the right direction. We have a decent group of freshmen coming in. We’re getting the numbers in practice to give us more competition and do more things.
“I’m cautiously optimistic.”