When all the improvements are done at Franklin Stadium by early September, the fast-rising Saber football team will likely have a complex that will be worthy of this experienced squad's vast potential this fall.
"We'll have a lot of depth this season," said coach Louis Brown. "If a kid goes down, it won't be the end of the world."
The team will be bolstered by a best-ever 28-member senior class.
The Sabers get a test worthy of their aspirations on Thursday when they take on Greater Metro Conference favorite Sussex Hamilton at 7 p.m. at Oak Creek.
The game was moved from Franklin because of all the work going on at Franklin that includes new parking lots, concession stands and a new permanent bathroom facility for the stadium.
And though the team will have depth, one player they will work very hard to keep upright and in one piece is third-year starting senior quarterback Sean McGuire (6-3, 200).
"If he stays healthy, I have no doubt he'll have a great season," Brown said of the captain. "He's had an unbelievable off-season."
Helping him out at the end positions will be senior Chad Walton (6-1, 195), who was injured last season, and senior Austin Meyer (5-10, 180), who according to Brown is the "fastest man on the team"
Seniors Rob Bell (6-1, 180), Nick Plath (5-11, 175), and Cal Wrobel (6-1, 170) and junior Giovani Flores (5-9, 165) are all skilled playmakers, Brown said.
"We have a lot of kids who can do different things," Brown said. "We lost some good kids in the passing game (to graduation), but we have a chance to do a lot of things (with this offense)."
Losing all-state guard T.J. Bartels to graduation hurt, but the offense still has veteran muscle upfront in senior Zak Wroblewski (5-11, 260) and juniors Vince Hughes (6-6, 230) and Bryan Beck (6-5, 250).
"We're still fighting to fill in a few pieces of the puzzle," Brown said.
Senior Austin Manning (6-0, 175) will help shore up a depleted special teams corps, while the defense will be led by second-team all-league defensive linemen Chad Kanugh (6-6, 250) and Jake Harman (5-10, 235), both seniors.
Brown is very pleased with his linebackers in seniors August Beck (6-3, 180), Jake Fernandes (5-11, 195) and Erik Wimmer (5-11, 205) and junior Casey Davis (5-9, 175).
Senior safety Jared Karow (6-1, 175) can "flat-out fly," said Brown. Karow, Fernandes and Harman are the other captains.
And though Brown is optimistic, he knows the proof will come when the games begin.
"We struggled occasionally under the bright lights last year," he said. "We're looking to be a bit more in the way of gamers (this season)."
Player to watch: Senior quarterback Sean McGuire. In his third year of starting, the tall, rangy and athletic McGuire is ready to lead the Sabers back to the promised land this fall. Coach Louis Brown said that co-captain McGuire has had "an unbelievable off-season" and has done a great job in becoming a leader for the whole team. He will have dangerous targets to throw to in Chad Walton, Austin Meyers, Rob Bell, Cal Wrobel and Giovani Flores.
Date to circle: Oak Creek at home on Sept. 20. With construction going on and around the Franklin complex, this might be the first game where lights, parking and the new bathroom and concession stands might all come into play for the Sabers against the defending SEC champions.
We say: The Sabers took some hits injury-wise at bad times last season or that 7-3 record might have been much better. Behind McGuire and an outstanding linebacking corps (three returning starters), however, they'll be a difficult out for anyone in what promises to be a balanced Southeast Conference.
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