PORT EDWARDS – The simple answer to the question of how you replace 3,038 yards and 34 touchdowns is that you don’t.
Those offensive totals are the combined efforts of former Port Edwards quarterback Collin McCarville and his favorite target Chris Montag, both of whom graduated in the spring.
The task for fourth-year Blackhawks coach Justin Crandall is to figure out how to come up with a potent offense with several new players in key skill positions.
The Blackhawks do bring back an electric player in Ethan Saylor, who caught 50 passes for 747 yards and 10 touchdowns, two more than Montag last season. He also had 193 yards and three TDs rushing.
“Ethan had a great year last season and might have been overshadowed because his name didn’t begin with a C,” Crandall said. “We can run him in the slot or out of the backfield. Ethan can do a lot of things with the ball and we’ll have to make sure we get it in his hands.”
Offensively, the Blackhawks will have a much more even balance between the run and the pass, mainly because of the youth at some skill positions.
“Last year was an aberration of what I like to do because we had Collin and Chris,” Crandall said.
Sophomore Ian Gibbs will take over under center on the offense and in addition to Saylor, Cordell Gruber and Tyler Kohlbeck are experienced on that side of the ball.
In senior Jared Joslin, the Blackhawks have a 6-5, 220-pound tight end and defensive lineman.
“Jared is going to be a force in the trenches,” Crandall said. “He’s going to cause a lot of trouble for teams. We’re going to move him around so our opponents won’t know what to look for.”
Crandall will also look for freshman Addison Gibbs to contribute on offense and sophomore Danny Spaulding on the line on both sides of the ball.
“We are young, but these kids do a lot of things together,” Crandall said. “If they aren’t playing football, they’re playing basketball together or doing something else.”
Port Edwards finished fourth in the Central Wisconsin Conference last year and missed the playoffs, something Crandall hopes to remedy this year. It won’t be an easy task, however.
“Almond-Bancroft is way on top of the mountain,” Crandall said. “They bring a lot of guys back from a Level 4 team and Wild Rose is going to be really good. Rosholt has a strong program, so you have to count them in there too.”
— Mark Massoglia can be reached at 715-423-7200, ext. 6736 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @markmazzy.
Coach: Justin Crandall, fourth year
2014 record: 4-5, 2-3 Central Wisconsin Conference-10
How far they got: Did not make playoffs
Key returnees: Jared Joslin, sr., TE/DL; Ethan Saylor, sr., WR/RB/DB; Tyler Kohlbeck, sr., WR/DB; Cordell Gruber, sr., RB/DB; Nick Rasmussen, sr.; OL/DB.
Key newcomers: Ian Gibbs, soph., QB.DB; Addison Gibbs, fr., WR/DB; Danny Spaulding, soph., OL/DL.
Aug. 20: at Johnson Creek
Aug. 28: vs. North Crawford
Sept. 4: at Wauzeka/Seneca
Sept. 11: vs. Wild Rose
Sept. 18: vs. Tri-County
Sept. 25: at DeSoto
Oct. 2: vs. Rosholt
Oct. 9: at Almond-Bancroft
Oct. 16: at Tigerton/Marion
Port Edwards 42, Johnson Creek 10
Port Edwards 40, North Crawford 22
Wild Rose 48, Port Edwards 28
Wild Rose 53, Tri-County 19
Elk Mound 27, Port Edwards 25
Rosholt 52, Port Edwards 7
Almond-Bancroft 58, Port Edwards 21
Port Edwards 45, Tigerton/Marion 14
Mishicot 46, Port Edwards 8