East Troy Trojans - Rock Valley
Coach: Jeff Crandall (2nd Season), 5-5 Overall (0-1 in the playoffs in 1 appearance; 2016)
2016 Result: 5-5 (5-4), 4th in the Rock Valley (Lost in Level 1 to Platteville in the D4 playoffs, 21-20)
Three-Year Record: 13-16 (0-2 playoffs)
2016 All-Conference Honors: 4 First-Team, 4 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (11 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 11 First-Team, 12 Second-Team, 9 Honorable Mention (32 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (5): OL/DL Chris Storandt (First Team-OL) (Honorable Mention-OL in 2015) (WSN Class of 2018 Players To Watch - OL), Sr.; RB/DL Jake Pieper (Second Team-DL), Sr.; OL/DL John Marschke (Second Team-OL), Jr.; RB/LB Chase Coleman (Honorable Mention-LB), Sr.; OL/LB Jacob Mast (Honorable Mention-OL), Sr.
Other Players To Watch: QB/DB Jake Dessart, Jr.; RB/LB Dylan Jakscht, Jr.; WR/DB Jake Price, Jr.; WR/LB Nick Scwall, Jr.
With a full offseason under his belt, Jeff Crandall is ready to get to work in year two as head coach of the East Troy Trojans.
After a 5-5 season that included a trip to the playoffs (and a narrow loss to Platteville in the opening round, 21-20), East Troy will need to replace a good portion of their yardage in the run game, but luckily for any of the backs that hit the field, there will be a talented wall of linemen in front of them.
"We consider our lines to be the strength of our team heading into this season," said Coach Crandall.
Leading the way is first-team all-conference pick Chris Storandt, also named to WisSports.net's watch list for the class of 2018 offensive linemen. Storandt was honorable mention his sophomore season. Another senior on the front line, Jacob Mast, was honorable mention as an offensive linemen last year. Second-team all-conference pick John Marshke also returns in the talented junior class.
One of the running backs expected to run behind that wall is junior Dylan Jackscht, who was third on the team in rushing a year ago. Junior quarterback Jake Dessart returns to start for a second straight year, and Dessart was second on the team in rushing in 2016.
East Troy's linemen play both sides of the ball, so the defensive line looks to be strong as well this season. In addition to the two-way players mentioned above (Storandt, Mast, and Marshke), East Troy will welcome back two-time second-team all-conference defensive lineman Jake Pieper, a senior. Another defensive anchor in the front seven will be senior Chase Coleman, who was honorable mention a season ago at linebacker.
Coach Crandall is expecting big things from his experienced returning players. "We are looking for great seasons from [all of them]," said Crandall.
On the schedule, because the Rock Valley is a closed conference (the 10 teams play nine games, all against other Rock Valley opponents), East Troy will see the same schedule of teams as they did last year.
The Trojans will hit the road in Week 1 to play McFarland. In Week 2, East Troy will see one of the best players in the state in Jackson Enz of Big Foot, in a big early home game. Last year, the Trojans pulled out a 48-43 victory.
After a road game in Edgerton in Week 3, East Troy will take on 2016 Rock Valley co-champion Clinton on Youth Football Night. Clinton was the biggest loss for the Trojans last year, 56-6.
In Week 5, East Troy will play nearby Whitewater, before opening up a difficult finish to their schedule with a home game on September 22 against Jefferson. One week later, the Trojans are back on the road to play at the other co-champion of the conference from last year, Evansville/Albany.
October isn't much easier. Homecoming is against Turner, the last team that East Troy beat in 2016, 26-22. The regular-season finale is against Brodhead/Juda on the road in Week 9.
It's typical in the Rock Valley that the race for conference championship is a bit muddled, but there aren't any clear-cut favorites in 2017. Jefferson features a very strong defense and figures to be one of the favorites in the conference this year. Turner looks to bounce back behind a strong offensive line led by Brandon Malkow. Big Foot will return the conference's offensive player in the year in Jackson Enz. Brodhead-Juda's run game looks to power the Cardinals to another postseason. Edgerton will lead a youth movement this year behind incoming juniors and all-conference honorable mention players Jaden Johnson at quarterback and Mason Simmons at linebacker. McFarland will have experience at most of its skill positions, with the strength of its team in the junior and sophomore classes. Whitewater returns one of the top players in the state in Jimmy DuVal.
Of the defending conference champions, Clinton looks poised to be at or near the top of the conference again behind seven returning all-conference players, one year following a run to the state semifinals. Evansville/Albany loses 13 players that earned all-conference honors last season, but have a fourth-year varsity quarterback in Zach Mielke, and another large, talented group of upperclassmen set to increase their roles.
"We have a large group of returning players, and I would expect strong competition in each game this year," said Coach Crandall. "We will need to be ready to compete each week and get better each game. The conference looks to be very competitive."
--Jimmie Kaska @jimmekaska