Steve Wilson announced his retirement from the program in November and was soon replaced by defensive coordinator Greg Vargas. Vargas, a Fruitport graduate, starred as a lineman under Wilson in the early 1990s, and said he’s energized to lead the program.
“It’s been nice because I’ve been able to step in and work with kids I know, really since they’ve been in youth leagues,” he said during a break from Tuesday’s practice. “So far, they’ve adjusted really well and I think there’s an excitement to what we’re trying to establish. We’re trying to create a more up-tempo atmosphere. We want to make sure our kids are using all their abilities and maximizing their potential to the fullest.
“People have a lot of high expectations here, so it’s exciting being a part of that,” he added. “But we have a lot of work to do.”
Vargas said fans of Fruitport football might notice some things that they haven’t seen on the field in quite some time, notably, different offensive formations. Vargas said they’ll maintain the Wing-T principles that Wilson stressed, but he expects to the Trojans to throw the ball more often.
“We have kids who can do some special things, so we’re going to put kids in certain roles. Still, I’d love nothing more than ramming the ball down team’s throats.”
As for early leaders on the team, Vargas highlighted returning quarterback Tyler Fehler, a senior who will also star in the Trojans’ secondary; senior Amelio Flores, a tight end/defensive tackle; and senior Jacob Breese.
Fruitport is coming off a 7-3 season, in which they earned a share of the Lakes Eight Conference championship with rival Spring Lake and earned a trip to the Division 3 state playoffs. The Trojans were handed a 49-28 loss by East Grand Rapids.
Aside from its Lakes Eight slate of games, the Trojans face a challenging non-conference schedule, which includes Reeths-Puffer in Game 1, DeWitt in the regular season finale, and a newcomer to the schedule, Muskegon Catholic Central.
“That should be a great area game,” Vargas said.