Central Lyon/George-Little Rock has new starters at 17 positionsROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — Graduation took a heavy toll on the starting lineups for the paired high school football program of Central Lyon and George-Little Rock.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — Graduation took a heavy toll on the starting lineups for the paired high school football program of Central Lyon and George-Little Rock.
A perennial power in northwestern Iowa, the Lions roared to a fine 7-4 season in 2011, including an impressive 40-0 victory in the opening round of the Class 2A, District 1 playoffs.
Eight starters, however, graduated off of both sides of the ball, and expected returning senior offensive right tackle Alex Postma (6-2, 295) is currently sidelined with a torn ACL and may miss the season.
“We graduated most of our starters,” summed up veteran head coach Toby Lorenzen, who is in his 18th season in charge of the Lions. “But, we played well in our first game (a 14-7 loss to rival West Lyon in the annual “Beef Bowl”) and have a lot of good athletes who love to play football.”
Senior tailback Josh Hunt (6-2, 185) returns after rushing for more than 1,300 yards last season.
The only other returning offensive starter is senior Ben Starr (6-0, 215), who moves from left tackle to right tackle while also coming back as a starting defensive end.
Two other defensive starters from 2011 are senior middle linebacker Luke Grooters (6-0, 215) and senior defensive tackle Trenton Enger (5-10, 225).
Those three — Starr, Grooters and Enger — were a big part of CL/G-LR’s successful team defense last season.
Expected to join that experienced trio this year in the Lions’ 4-3 defensive scheme are senior end Evan Voss (6-1, 205) and junior tackle Jacob Kumba (6-1, 200), along with junior outside linebackers Ethan Christians (6-0, 205) and Brent Klingenberg (5-9, 175).
A whole new defensive secondary is on the field for CL/G-LR this year, although senior Cole Schleusner (5-9, 150) played a lot last season as the Lions’ fifth defensive back.
Schleusner will start at cornerback this fall and is joined at the other corner by junior Tanner Ver Steeg (5-11, 146) and the very athletic duo of senior Jesse Markus (5-11, 175) and junior Jesse Henrichs (5-11, 160) at safeties.
After playing some last season, Markus takes over the quarterback position this year. His speed will be a factor in Lorenzen’s offensive game plan.
“He’s a fast runner and can get around the edges,” praised Lorenzen about Markus. “Jesse gives us a good situation at quarterback because he passes pretty well, too.”
Grooters, who played some as both a tight end and a fullback last season, will man the fullback position this year, as Hunt’s lead blocker. The versatile football player will also carry the ball often, too.
“With Hunt, Grooters and Markus, we have three good backs,” declared Lorenzen. “I think that we will more diversified and will be able to run the ball better this season.”
Christians and Henrichs, who will also be used as a wide receiver, give the Lions a pair of quality backups at the running back positions, pleasing Lorenzen even more.
“We like to run the ball and it helps to have good backfield depth,” he said. “We have some options.”
Ver Steeg and junior Austin Hayenga (5-11, 155) are CL/G-LR’s go-to guys as wide receivers, while the tight end position may be “handled by committee,” according to Lorenzen.
Senior Alex Wiertzema (6-0, 175), sophomore Grant Metzger (6-3, 190) and sophomore Nic Lutmer (6-2, 185) are each contending for the Lions’ tight-end position.
Joining Starr on the offensive line will be junior Ned Knobloch (5-11, 200) at center, senior Adam Tecken (6-3, 205) at left guard, sophomore Travis Vander Streek (5-8, 220) at left tackle and junior Andrew Metzger (6-2, 220) at right guard.
Senior Luke DeJong (6-0, 170) is the Lions’ kickoff specialist, while Grooters will do the punting and kick extra points and field goals.
Henrichs and Hunt will return kicks for CL-G-LR, but Markus and Ver Steeg will be the punt returners for the Lions.
“We have an athletic team with good speed,” concluded Lorenzen. “We’re not real big, but we are big enough. We need to build some depth in our offensive line, but our skilled-position players are pretty legitimate.”
After playing at West Lyon (Aug. 24) and hosting Hull Western Christian (Aug. 31), the Lions travel to Cherokee Sept. 7 for a clash with the Washington High School Braves.