Posen motivated, ready to work hard in 10th 8-Player season

POSEN–In 2009, the Posen football team became the first team in Northeast Michigan to begin playing eight-player football.

Back then, the Vikings were just learning the ropes, happy to keep their football program going and setting the groundwork for the future teams.

Ten years later, Posen stands out as the veteran as three more local teams have transitioned to eight-player football since 2015.

Veterans or not, the Vikings are hoping the 2018 season turns out better than 2017’s result. If early practices are any indication, the Vikings are very motivated to improve after last season’s 2-7 finish.

“They’re motivated. They’re competitive, they push each other and from day one to now you can just tell that the speed and the technique and the footwork is getting better,” Posen coach Greg Pietsch said. “This team has some football sense to (it), some football intelligence which we try to coach them up (on) every day.”

Pietsch spoke highly of his group of 20 players during Posen’s first practice and in the nearly two weeks since then, the Vikings have continued to show him this is the group he wants on the field on Friday nights.

“The kids we have, they work hard, they love football and they’re fun to coach. I feel fortunate to be able to work with a great group of young men like that,” Pietsch said.

Just two of Posen’s five seniors are returners from last season, but the 20-man roster includes 10 juniors and five sophomores, so that should bode well for the Vikings’ future.

Regardless of experience or youth, the Vikings have been embraced conditioning during the offseason as well as competition in practice. After graduating eight seniors last year, including many in key positions, Pietsch said many starting spots are still up for grabs.

After graduating Dylan Schuch, the Vikings will turn to juniors Wyatt Romel and George Kroll at quarterback.

In the back field, the Vikings return senior Mark Wisniewski, who was an Bridge 8-Man Football Alliance Honorable Mention last season. Wisniewski was a force for Posen last year, rushing for 1,075 and 14 touchdowns while averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

The Vikings will look to Wisniewski to be a playmaker again this season, but, perhaps more importantly, Wisniewski has established himself as one of the team’s leaders.

“He’s really stepped up and shown some great leadership this year. He’s been able to push some of the younger kids and show them the ropes and how we do things,” Pietsch said. “As far as leadership goes I think Mark has really stepped up this year.”

Senior Sam Brunet, juniors Tyler Hincka and Kyle Kensa and Chase Dubie could be among those also taking handoffs.

Up front, Posen will have plenty of depth. Junior Cameron Paull will likely anchor the line at center. Junior Gabe Jakubcin and sophomore Gage Kasubowski will likely line up at the tackle spots and senior Ben Delekta, junior Cameron Freed are in the mix on the offensive line as well.

Junior Lyrical Mercier and sophomore Luke Chappa will give Posen some options at tight end and junior Eyan Hincka and senior Jeremy Misiak will line up at the receiver spots.

On the defensive line, Paull, Mercier, Ben Romel, Delekta, Kasubowski, Chappa, Freed and Jakubcin will all be in the mix. Wisniewski, Kensa and Tyler Hincka are in the rotation at linebacker and Wyatt Romel, AJ Brunet, Kroll, Misiak, Matt Szatkowski, Eyan Hincka and Dubie are among those who could see playing time in the defensive back field.

Looking at the schedule, the Vikings will be reunited with many of their old North Star League opponents. Posen’s schedule includes games against Atlanta, Hale, Hillman and Au Gres, reigniting some local rivalries after more than a decade. Posen regularly plays those schools in other sports, but hasn’t met them on the gridiron since 2008.

“Our kids are excited about it,” Pietsch said. “They play those schools in other sports and the rivalry I think is restored that way and we’re just excited to get on the field.”