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Football team eager to improve in new eight-man conference
North Crawford
NC football team_2020-2021 preview
The 2020-21 NORTH CRAWFORD Football Team includes, front row from left, Satchel McClurg, Caleb John-son, Cameron Johnson, Stephen Munson, Keegan Bender, Chris Long and Hemi Steele; and in the middle row from left, Jayce Roys, Kaeden Chellevold, Garrett Finnell, Connor Gannon, Raiden Steele, Alex Morga; and in the back row from left, Coach Jeremy Fradette, Coach Andy Watters, Deyton Blaha, Ben Benson, Nick Nickell, Ricky Nickell, Thomas McCormick, Coach John Powell and Coach Dave Pastorino.

NORTH CRAWFORD - “There’s a different attitude at the North Crawford football practices this year,” according to Trojan coach Jeremy Fradette.

Last season’s trials and tribulations have been put aside by the team ready to enter a new conference, the Southern 8 Conference, to play eight-man football.

“It’s a good thing and everyone is super excited,” coach Fradette said of the mood. “It’s fun. There’s even some goofing around at practice and having fun with the game.”

The Trojans are coming off one of their worst seasons in recent history. In the fall of 2019 season, North Crawford was 0-9 overall and 0-7 in the Ridge and Valley Conference

“In a lot of those games we fell pretty hard.” Fradette said recalling the season.

The team did lose three talented players to graduation, including receiver-defensive back Daymian Mack, tight end-linebacker Hayden Clark and linebacker-full back Jake Olson, who did not play some games due to injury.

However, there’s plenty of talent returning for another season. Among those returning is junior Stephen Munson, who will play wing back and linebacker.

Also returning for another season are seniors Raiden Steele (running back/linebacker) and Connor Gannon (offensive guard/linebacker). There are also juniors Chris Long (tight end/safety), Kaeden Chellevold (center) and Garrett Finnell (offensive guard).

Senior Ben Benson will return at the defensive end position and junior Keegan Bender will play spin back, essentially the quarterback in eight-man football.

Seniors Caleb and Cameron Johnson both played last year and will be playing defensive end and offensive line again this season.

Senior Jace Roys will also be playing defensive end.  He played briefly last year as the nose tackle. And, Fradette is looking for him to play a bigger role on defense this season.

Gerillmo Perez is a foreign exchange student, who will be kicking the ball for North Crawford this season.

A senior going out for football this season for the first time is Thomas McCormick.

“Thomas is big kid and we’re looking forward to seeing how he can help us out,” coach Fradette said. “We’re in the process of seeing what he can do.”

There are two freshmen on the team with the potential to see some playing time this season. They are Alex Morga and Gavin Jacobus.

Sophomore Dave Blaha will pay cornerback and Satchel McClurg will play in a rotation at middle linebacker with Connor Gannon.

Coach Jeremy Fradette believes the team’s biggest strength is speed. This strength is enhanced by eight-man football since there’s three less players on the field making it harder for the defense to contain runners.

The team’s three fastest players are Stephen Munson, Chris Long and Raiden Steele.

Fradette sees the biggest challenge the team faces is communicating on defense. This is intensified in the eight-man defense, where defenders must pass receivers on to other defenders.

“If we don’t communicate on defense we are going to stumble,” the coach said.

So, rule-wise there are a couple of changes in eight-man football. One is a lineman can be eligible for passes simply by being on the end of the line. There are two less offensive linemen and one less running back than in 11-man offenses. 

This season, North Crawford will not modify it’s field length from its original size of 50 yards wide and 100 yards long. However, an eight-man team football field is supposed to be 40 yards wide and 80 yards long.

The Trojans will run a single wing  offense and the wing position will be played by Munson. 

The spin back as the quarterback is called in eight-man often runs a read option offense.

“You don’t have to have big guys you need fast guys on the field,” Fradette explained. “It’s a fast-guy game, not a big-man game.”

The team’s goal this season is not to be shutout and be competitive in every game, according to the coach.

So, what about the Southern 8 Conference this season?

This year in the condensed spring season, there will be only six games. North Crawford will play Weston-Wonewoc Center, Kickapoo-LaFarge and Wisconsin Heights (Black Earth) in a home and away schedule. Other teams in the conference include Belmont, Oakdale (near Tomah), St. Mary’s (near Necedah), Williams Bay (near Delavan and Elkhart Lake (near Sheboygan).

When the conference reconstitutes next year, there will be a few three-hour bus rides involved, according to Fradette.

For now, the team is happy to be able to get on the field and play some football. Go Trojans.