Here’s what Ryan Eigenberger gets to deal with as the new head football coach at Kohler/Lutheran/Christian this season: two seniors, zero juniors and just one full-time starter back.
Christian offensive guard/defensive tackle John Putnam is the lone returning starter for Eigenberger, a 2009 Sheboygan North graduate who was an assistant with the Blue Bombers the previous three season.
“He’s a good player for us,” Eigenberger said. “He’s a good guard. He’s been reliable for us. He’s got some good size and is athletic at the same time. He’s great in the classroom, he’s great in the community, so it’s awesome having him around. If we’re only going to have two seniors and one returning starter, he’s a great one to have, really.”
The other senior for Eigenberger, who has never been a head coach before, is Kohler wide receiver/linebacker Dax Havens. This is his first season on the football team.
That leaves about 15 sophomores – some were starters at the end of last season – and 11 to 12 freshmen to fill out the roster.
Other schools with those type of numbers would maybe have to cancel the varsity season.
“But we have a really good group of sophomores, so we actually wouldn’t say that we’re really even close to that,” Eigenberger said. “I know the conference in general, there’s some lower numbers from a lot of the teams. We’re definitely not alone in that boat. Starting 10 sophomores – a lot of them will have to go both ways for us – and seeing the things they can do this year and the next couple years will be pretty special to watch.
“They’re a great group. They had a lot of success in youth football together. So we’re excited to get them going on varsity.”
One of the sophomores is quarterback Robbie Michael (Lutheran), who split time last season with then-senior PJ Elmendorf.
Michael appeared in seven games and completed 25 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought Robbie had a nice season last year,” Eigenberger said. “He was a little bit undersized but he throws a good ball and is a great leader. He was actually a big player on Sheboygan Lutheran’s state-winning basketball team as well. He’s got nerves of steel in him. … He brings a lot of the intangibles as well that you look for in a quarterback.”
Shoes to fill: KLC has to replace six key players, including five who made all-Big East Conference a year ago.
Joseph Conklin made the second team as an offensive lineman and defensive tackle, and Trent Stock got second team as an inside linebacker and honorable mention as an offensive lineman, but they graduated.
So did second-team wide receiver Graden Grabowski and honorable mention defensive back David Beneshek.
Luke Navis was a junior when he made the second team as a punter last year, but is no longer playing football.
And the family of would-be senior Riley Hornicek, who was second among Blue Bombers with 34 solo tackles, moved away.
A good sign: The Blue Bombers should be able to have a full junior varsity schedule this season.
“Last year we played five or six games, I think,” Eigenberger said. “The year before that, none.”
K/L/C AT A GLANCE
Coach: Ryan Eigenberger
Last year: 0-9 (0-8 BEC, 10th)
Reigning champ: Cedar Grove-Belgium
*The team has just two seniors and does not have any juniors.
*OG/DT John Putnam is the lone returning starter.
*Five players made all-BEC last year, but none are back.
*The Blue Bombers scored a total of 41 points last season.
*Reedsville was one win shy of playing for the Division 7 state title.
*Two-time defending BEC champion Cedar Grove-Belgium has won its last 22 league games.
*Rockets’ senior quarterback Michael Navis was the conference’s player of the year last season.
*Hilbert senior inside linebacker Evan Lau was tabbed the leagues’ defensive player of the year.
All games at 7 p.m.
Aug. 23 at CG-Belgium
Aug. 30 Man. Lincoln
Sept. 6 at Random Lake
Sept. 13 at Mishicot
Sept. 20 Howards Grove
Sept. 27 at Reedsville
Oct. 4 Hilbert
Oct. 11 at Ozaukee
Oct. 18 Oostburg