The numbers are in a more realistic mode than last year for the Shorewood/Messmer football team, as the Greyhounds look to overcome a few early-season obstacles en route to improving their 3-6 record of a year ago.
"The numbers are down a little," said second-year coach Chad Hofmann. 'We have about 15 freshmen out, and we're looking to pick up a few more once school starts. Overall, we have about 65 total out, and about 45 in the sophomore through senior group.
"Last year, when we had a total of 80-85 for awhile; that was almost freakish."
Affecting the Greyhounds' numbers early on will be some eligibility issues that will shorten up the team in a few key spots.
In the interim, they will rely on a strong junior class and a few unproven backs. A major force will be 6-3, 242-pound, senior, two-way lineman Kendrick McGahee. He will pave the way for the likes of senior quarterback Joe Friedman (6-1, 152) and sophomore running back Zoe McDowell (5-9, 141). Down the line, All-Woodland back Grant Brown (5-10, 160) will be a major factor offensively as well.
Another help on the offensive side will be sophomore receiver/quarterback Aaron Eimers (5-11, 152).
Defensively, Shorewood/Messmer will be in a little better shape, said Hofmann. McGahee will pair with junior Eli Rivera (6-2, 200) to give the team a pair of very formidable and fast defensive ends. Others looking to help out on that side of the ball are junior defensive tackle Joe Lofton (5-10, 233) and senior middle linebacker Ben Grabowski (6-0, 169).
A major impact player could be 6-1, 266-pound senior lineman Will Lanphere. He missed all of last year with a knee injury but is healthy and running exceptionally well (4.6 40-yard dash).
"With his speed and strength, we're very happy to get him back," Hofmann said.
Depth at linebacker may be an issue, he added. Hofmann said the team will have a lot of speed, but depth, particularly among the linemen, will be an issue. He said he only has about 11 or 12 legitimate "big bodies" out this fall. "We'll have a lot of guys going both ways," he said.
What he's really happy about is the attitude.
"The morale has been very good," Hofmann said. "The scrimmage we had on Friday (Aug. 12 against Whitefish Bay and Milwaukee Custer) was a good experience. It was good to see how the guys would react to a game situation. I thought we played pretty well and matched up man to man better than I thought we would."
The Greyhounds will open the season at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at home against City Conference power Milwaukee King. They fell to the Generals, 22-20, last season.
THREE TO WATCH
Talented Trio: Hofmann likes a lot of players on his team, but it appears right away that players like McGahee, Brown and Lanphere will be major keys to success for the Greyhounds. Keeping this group healthy, especially Lanphere and McGahee, will be a major goal of the team this fall as size is at a premium for this team.
Road Warriors: The Greyhounds will have to succeed on the road early as four of their first six games, including three of their first four Woodland tilts, are away from the friendly confines of Shorewood. A key home game is Sept. 9 against league power South Milwaukee.
We say: Hofmann kept the Greyhounds on the right path last season, and it looks like he will again this season. If the team can survive the early eligibility issues, they will be a legitimate Woodland divisional contender because there is talent here. and the success Hofmann inherited from former coach Drake Zortman looks like it has taken root. There's no going back to the bad old days.
First team: Grant Brown (WR, DB)
Second team: None
Honorable mention: Miguel Monedero-Gold (OL), Jake Nation (OL), Ben Grabowski (TE), Kendrick McGahee (DE), Henry Peters (DB)
First-team losses: Timothy Bean (OL), DeAngelo Stewart (RB), Dom Carter (IL), Harvey Singleton (ILB)
Coach: Chad Hofmann
Outcome: Did not make playoffs
Last year (home in bold)
Milwaukee King L 22-20
Nicolet W 34-13
Greenfield L 46-20
Cudahy W 34-7
South Milwaukee L 7-0
Whitnall L 30-28
Brown Deer W 49-0
Wauwatosa West L 48-21
Pewaukee L 35-0
Aug. 19 Milwaukee King
Aug. 26 at Nicolet
Sept. 2 at Cudahy
Sept. 9 South Milwaukee
Sept. 16 at Whitnall
Sept. 23 at Brown Deer
Sept. 30 Greenfield
Oct. 7 Woodland Crossover
Oct. 14 Woodland Crossover