Despite a lack of experience and small numbers in the senior class, East Troy made the playoffs for the third straight year in 2017. Now, with the majority of their team back from last year, the Trojans appear poised to be one of the teams to beat in the Rock Valley in 2018.
"Last year, we were a really young team, playing a lot of sophomores and juniors," said head coach Jeff Crandall. "I was really happy to see that as the season went along, they took their lumps and grew from it, got better as the season went along."
After graduating a very small senior class, this year's East Troy Trojans should be the complete opposite of last season. Not only do they have a massive senior class, but the depth extends into the incoming junior and sophomore classes as well. Plus, most of the returning players have experience, and eight Trojans were mentioned in the Rock Valley all-conference honors.
Tops among those honors went to dual-threat quarterback Jake Dessart, picked as one of the best in the state by WisSports.net for the senior class and this after a season in which he had nearly 3,000 combined rushing and passing yards. Dessart ran for 23 touchdowns on 212 carries for 1,719 yards, and also threw for 1,263 yards and 10 more scores.
The line in front of him suffered a couple of graduation losses, but three starters return, including two-time all-conference lineman John Marschke. At the skill positions, everyone is back from last year that carried, caught, or threw a pass last year minus two catches by one graduated player. Dylan Jakscht tallied nearly a thousand yards rushing of his own last year and scored eight touchdowns, and Quintin Schoville added 649 yards on the ground and seven scores. Jacob Price led the team in every receiving category (42 catches, 620 yards, six touchdowns), and 6'6" target Joshua Marshman hauled in a stat line of 25-312-1 last season.
Defense is where the team saw a few losses, but still return linebacker Zack Burke, who had 125 tackles, a pick, and a fumble recovery last year. Brandon Bakken comes off the edge and had two sacks, two forced fumbles, and 75 stops last season. Nick Schwall earned all-conference honors after forcing three fumbles, picking off two passes, recovering a fumble, and recording 57 tackles. John Skinner didn't play a full season at defensive tackle, but was honorable mention all-conference, and overall the Trojans will bring back seven of their top 10 tacklers from a season ago.
On special teams, Dessart handles the punting (a 38.1 yards-per-punt average), while several of their skill position players handled returns. The kicking game is in good hands, as Brett Wojiechowski kicked an impressive 30-for-34 on extra points his freshman season in 2017 and added a made field goal for good measure.
Every game is a conference game in the Rock Valley, and the Trojans open up on the road against defending champion Clinton, followed by a trip to Whitewater. East Troy's home opener is against Big Foot on August 31, before heading back out on the road to play McFarland in Week 4.
Evansville/Albany comes to town on September 14, and then the Trojans will visit Brodhead/Juda in Week 6. Homecoming is September 28, when East Troy will square off with Edgerton. October begins with a road game against last year's conference runner-up Jefferson, and then a Senior Night against Beloit Turner wraps up the regular season.
Here is The Big 1070's interview with East Troy head coach Jeff Crandall:
East Troy Trojans - Rock Valley
Head Coach: Jeff Crandall (3rd Season), 10-10 Overall (0-2 Playoffs)
2017 Result: 5-5 (5-4), 5th in the Rock Valley (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 3 playoffs to Catholic Memorial 42-20)
Three-Year Record: 16-14 (0-3 playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 2 First-Team, 6 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (11 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 11 First-Team, 16 Second-Team, 9 Honorable Mention (36 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (8): QB/P/DB Jake Dessart [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-QB), Sr.; OL John Marschke (2nd Team-OL in 2017 and 2016), Sr. RB Dylan Jakscht (2nd Team-RB), Sr.; WR Jacob Price (2nd Team-WR), Sr.; WR Eli Newhouse (HM-WR), Sr.; DB Nick Schwall (HM-DB), Sr.; DB Zack Burke (2nd Team-LB), Jr.; DL John Skinner (HM-DL), Jr.
Other Players To Watch: LB Brandon Bakken, Sr.; OL Evan Stanford, Sr.; WR Joshua Marshman, Sr.; WR Damien Timm, Sr.; OL Logan Roberts, Sr.; DL Max Hanson, Sr; DL Nick Beaudin, Sr.; DL Valdon Islami, Sr.; DL Matt Kisting, Sr.; LB Joe Blake, Sr.; DB Miles McCarthy, Sr.; WR/RB Quintin Schoville, Jr.; LB James Taylor, Jr.; DB Zach Wendorf, Jr.; DB Ryan Nixon, So.; K Brett Wojiechowski, So.