This week marks the beginning of the fall sports season. We will be heading out to Spring Lake, Fruitport and Muskegon Catholic Central to cover the first week of football practices.
Grand Haven’s high school football started their first week of practice this week, and the Buccaneers are looking to build on last year’s successes and learn from last year’s mistakes.
Grand Haven comes into the season with a roster made up of mostly seniors who have a significant amount of experience and juniors who look to contribute on both sides of the ball.
The Buccaneers are led by Connor Worthington, their fullback/defensive end whose play as a junior earned him first-team all-state honors at defensive end. Owen Krizan looks to be a significant factor for the team on both sides of the ball as he will be playing safety and running back this year.
A few games of note: On Sept. 20, Grand Haven takes on Grandville in their Bucs pride game where the players plan to wear purple jerseys and honor someone in their life that has battled cancer. On Oct. 11, they take on Caledonia and that game will also serve as the school's homecoming game and on Oct. 18 the Buccaneers will host their youth night.
Here are three questions asked of coach Joe Nelson as the Buccaneers prepare for 2019.
Who are your impact players for this year’s team?
“Aidan Cooper is a linebacker that is going to be very important to us this year. Will McWatters is also going to be a linebacker and he’ll help out on offense as a blocker as a wingback type of kid that will be a blocker, a receiver and he’ll be able to run the ball a little bit. He gives us a little diversity.
“Up front, we’ve got guys like Landon VanBeek, he’s a junior, he’ll play offensive guard for us,” Nelson said.
What mindset or values are you trying to instill in the team during this first week of practice?
“For me, we are trying to get from good to great. What does it take to get from good to great? That’s been our summer lesson. We are pretty good, but good can be great’s enemy. That’s kind of our overall mantra,” Nelson said of the team's attitude as a whole.
They have a separate mantra that they have presented to their defense for them to adopt and to live by.
“Clear minds, fast feet. We want to make sure that we understand what’s going on with the schemes, the lineups and where we are supposed to be so we’re not worried about that and we can play fast.” Nelson said.
What is the key game on your schedule? Why?
“Our most important game to us right now is the Reeths-Puffer game, that’s our opener. That is really going to set the table for us.
“We won our non-league games last year, but we didn’t win a league game. We have to be able to win our non-league games and then we have to be able to compete in our league. So Reeths-Puffer is our opener and this our biggest focus right now,” Nelson said of their schedule this season.
The team continues to practice the rest of this week as the prepare for Aug. 23 when they take on Reeths-Puffer H.S. at home to open up their 2019 season.