1. How will Grand Haven replace its record-breaking offensive playmakers it lost from last season?
I believe Mike Farley has demonstrated in his seven years as coach at Grand Haven that he’s able to plug new pieces into his spread offense attack every season and not miss a beat. Last year at this time, Bucs’ fans were quietly worried about starting a new quarterback and a lot of new receivers. Well, those worries were quickly put to rest with great seasons from Scott Staal, Danny Cotter, Matt Kroll and others. This fall, I believe new stars will be established soon. By all accounts, senior Michael Penland should ease into the starting quarterback role, and watch out for receivers such as Isaak Newhouse, Jeff Olson and Jake Lovett.
2. But again, the Bucs return only one offensive starter. That has to be a concern, right?
It may take a couple games to establish a rhythm offensively, but Farley said he feels pretty good about the offensive line gelling during the last week, which is led by three-year starting center Matt Mulcahy. Plus, these kids have worked together at about seven different passing and team camps this summer, so some familiarity had to be established. Don’t disregard the success many of these Bucs have experienced at the JV level last year. They know what it takes to win, and that intangible cannot be overlooked.
3. The defense returns four starters, so could they be further along than the offense right now?
That unit may indeed carry the Bucs early. Newhouse has a nose for the football as a free-ranging safety, and there’s plenty of other great athletes who can create havoc. Farley has raved about the impressive achievements in the weight room from junior linebacker Aaron Gordon, while senior Conner Moynihan is a small but disruptive nose guard.
4. The question on all Bucs’ fans mind is simple. Can we beat Rockford?
The Rams seem to be the team to beat in the smaller O-K Red Conference this season, yet if Thursday’s action revealed anything, it’s that they aren’t as dominating as many projected, or that Lowell is still a really good team. Regardless, Grand Haven will have to play its best game to defeat Rockford. Their contest is the last regular season game of the schedule on Oct. 19 at Buccaneer Stadium, and if the Bucs have their way, it will determine the O-K Red championship.
5. Can Grand Haven punch a return ticket to the Division 1 state playoffs, which would be the program’s fourth-straight trip?
Call me a Blue & Gold homer, but I’m saying yes. It would be a major surprise if Grand Haven can’t win at least three of four from its non-conference slate. And in the O-K Red, with Grandville and East Kentwood still in rebuilding mode, the Bucs could have five wins by the time they reach their final brutal three-game stretch — West Ottawa, Hudsonville and Rockford.
With so much inexperience on this squad, reaching the playoffs may mean it would be Farley’s best coaching job, but it’s definitely possible.