3 Questions: Fruitport Football

Josh VanDyke • Aug 11, 2018 at 12:30 AM

FRUITPORT — The Fruitport football program will be under new leadership this fall, as Nate Smith takes over as the Trojans' head coach after coaching stints at both Grand Haven and Muskegon Catholic Central as an offensive coordinator.

After his first official practice with his team, Smith took some time to answer three big questions that the Trojans are facing this fall as they attempt to rebuild a historical proud program.

How has his previous coaching experience helped him as a head coach?

"I think when you are a part of other programs, it helps you learn different aspects of coaching and then you are able to take particular things with you to your next coaching stop," said Smith. "I was at Grand Haven for quite a while when they were rebuilding, and we had some success, but then we regressed a little bit. Then, I went up to Muskegon Catholic, who has a rich tradition.

"I learned a lot about what it takes to rebuild a program and then what a traditional powerhouse program looks and operates like. I also know a lot about Fruitport and what this program is all about traditionally. I don't know if that gives me an advantage or not, but it definitely helps me hit the ground running with an understanding of what the program is about and what the community expects.

"The tradition is great here and the community is very authentic. They are real, hard-working folks who want to see good football and they want to see these kids be successful both on the field and in the classroom."

What time of philosophy does Smith bring to the program?

"We want to be a real physical football team," he added. "We preach physical, fast and focused every day at practice, and those are three things are want to implement in everything that we do.

"Offensively, we want to put our kids in the best position to succeed, so we will use a multiple-style system. It'll look different from year to year depending on the talent on the roster, but I would describe our general playing style as a power spread. We want to use spread formations with power principles up front.

"Defensively, we want to play fast and aggressive, but also be assignment sound and disciplined. We put a lot of focus on our alignment and recognizing what the other team is lining up in before the snap. Film work will be important, and that's something that will help us be more prepared when we step on the field on gameday.

"Conditioning has been a big focus for us. We've put in an offseason conditioning program. We've had two weeks of night running leading up to practice and we are going to add conditioning to every practice, too. We don't have a huge roster, so a lot of kids are going to have to play both ways in some instances and they have to be in good shape in order to perform well."

Who will be the Trojans' key players this fall?

"This has been a great group to work with as a new coach," Smith continued. "David Cadena is the heart and soul of our team. He's a senior and our returning center on offense. He's a little undersized, but he works his tail off in the weight room and in the classroom, and he really believes in what we are trying to build here. He supports his teammates and is a very unselfish kid.

"Wes Illum is a returning tackle for us on offense. He's a big kid who will help us secure the offensive line, along with Hunter Gannon at tight end. He's a big, athletic kid who has a real nose for the ball and is really picking up our new offensive and defensive schemes quickly.

"We've got some skill players who have a lot of potential for us. Ethan Flores is a wide receiver that we are excited about. He's a great track athlete with quickness, great hands and runs smooth routes. Crue Cooper is another great athlete for us who has really been a beast in the weight room. He will play some linebacker and running back for us and we might put him out there as an H-back or slot receiver, too.

"Dominic Colegrove is a returning running back for us. He had a great year last year, but got hurt later on in the season and missed some games. He's got a special athletic ability for his size, so he's going to be a great addition to our backfield. Zane Lee is a kid who was a starting guard last year and has put in a lot of work in the weight room. He's looking to be a linebacker and running back for us this year, but he had knee surgery a few weeks ago. We're hoping to have him back by the end of the month.

"Jakob Carlisle is a senior who is the returning quarterback. He's got a good understanding of what the offense is supposed to look like and has varsity experience at a key position. Tyler Zimmerman is a sophomore who is pushing him a little at practice and that is only going to make both of them better in the long run."

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