Replacing quarterback not the only mission for Milton Red Hawks

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Eric Schmoldt
August 19, 2015

Everyone wants to know who will start at quarterback for Milton.

When a team loses a three-year starter and one of the area’s top all-around athletes, like Tyler Westrick, that will happen.

But Red Hawks head football coach Bill O’Leary has plenty more questions to answer than just that one. He lost six first-team all-Badger South Conference selections from a year ago. All of his returning defensive starters are in the secondary, and all of the returners on offense play up front.

O’Leary has plenty of shoes to fill, but he thinks the Red Hawks can fill them and contend for another league title after sharing the crown with Monona Grove in 2014.

“There’s a lot of holes to fill, but that’s just the way it is. It’s not a problem, it’s just how it has to go,” O’Leary said. “I’ve got a lot of lettermen that played on a pretty successful team last year.

“They weren’t the guys that carried the load, but they jumped in and played when we needed them.”

All O’Leary-coached football teams are led by the defense.

This year, that side will be paced by a returning group of defensive backs that should allow the Red Hawks’ front seven to be active in stopping the run and blitzing opposing passers.

Chase Frye, Chaney Passer and Dylan Brown lead the way in the secondary, and they all started. They’ll be aided by Trevor Marsden and Adam Luiting.

“It’s kind of unique that our only returning starters on defense are in the backfield,” O’Leary said. “They’ll be the backbone.”

At linebacker, Milton will turn to Kyle Zucaro, who saw plenty of time last year, as well as Dylan Swerig—also an all-league punter/kicker—Drew Hermanson and Jake Armstrong. Junior Blake Knutdsen has stood out early on and will step in as needed.

Phil Smecko, who stepped up during the playoffs last year, leads Milton’s pass-rushers up front. Tom Rakestraw has improved his speed, O’Leary said, and should clog the middle at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds. Cole Peterson will also help up front, and the Red Hawks will likely fill out their line with a player from the offensive side of the ball.

As for that looming question on offense, O’Leary said no one can ever replace Westrick, but he has a couple signal-callers vying for the starting gig.

“The post-Westrick era is filled with a lot of questions,” O’Leary said. “We have Nick Cadd, a senior, and Isaac Phillips, a junior. It’s a spirited competition. We split time going into the scrimmage (last Friday), and then we play Baraboo in nonconference. We’d like to get them both reps.”

Running back will probably be another area that includes a committee. Junior Billy Pitzner, a state-qualifying wrestler, leads the stable along with Connor Zak, Travis Barb, Scott Mansur and Jacob Thiele.

“We’ll give them the ball behind the line and see what they can do,” O’Leary said. “There’s some opportunities there.”

The three returners up front are second-team all-league tight end Patrick O’Leary, guard Garrett Knutson and tackle Noah Arneson. Newcomers are Matt Mawhinney at center, guard Ben Holmquist and tackle Myles Maxwell.

Noah Phillips, Tatum Priewe, Passer, Mike Cadd, Blake Ruiz and Joey Stivarius will help outside and at H-back spots.

“We’ve got a lot of team speed, so we have to take advantage of it,” O’Leary said. “We are not big enough to line up and pound people, so we’ve got to use our speed to get outside.”

Can Milton repeat in the Badger South?

That Milton beat Monona Grove in Week 9 last year to force a shared Badger South Conference title was surprising enough.

That the Red Hawks held the Silver Eagles to just three points? That was impossible to see coming.

But Milton’s defense was stingy all year, and a talented senior class was not going to be denied a conference crown.

Now, with that senior class gone, can the Red Hawks repeat? That’s a tough one to answer, but in a conference full of question marks, stranger things have happened.

“It’s up for grabs,” Milton coach Bill O’Leary said. “There’s a new coach at Monona Grove. I’m sure he’s a great coach, but when a new guy steps in, it’s different. There’s a new coach at Stoughton, so you don’t know if there will be big changes.

“Edgewood is always going to be quick. Fort Atkinson had a really good sophomore team last year. Monroe always gives us a run for our money. And I haven’t said Oregon yet, and they might be the favorite.”

Stoughton made the playoffs despite a 3-7 record because it was 3-3 in league play. Dan Prahl takes over what should be a Badger South-contending team.

Oregon could make the playoffs for the second year in a row after missing out on the postseason for four straight years.

And with longtime coach Mike Stassi gone at Monona Grove, the reins are handed to Brandon Beckwith, one of Stassi’s assistants. Beckwith’s team does boast the unquestioned top returning player in the league, running back Toren Young. Young ran for more than 1,200 yards last year and has verbally committed to Iowa.

Circle Oct. 16 on the calendar. Milton and Monona Grove meet up in Week 9 again, this time at Carl F. Anderson Field.


Number, Name, year, height, weight, position.

86, Griffin Allen, Jr., 6-0, 186, TE/LB

57, Jake Armstrong, Sr., 6-2, 185, OL/LB

64, Noah Arneson, Sr., 6-1, 210, OL

41, Travis Barb, Jr., 5-8, 145, RB/DB

2, Dylan Brown, Sr., , , DB

70, Nate Byrne, Jr., 5-11, 315, DL

9, Nick Cadd, Sr., 5-11, 170, QB

8, Mike Cadd, Sr., 5-8, 170, WR

Dakota Craker, Jr., 6-3, 215, OL/DL

85, Jon Crofts, Jr., 5-10, 160, WR

66, Calvin Dobson, Jr., 6-1, 201, OL

36, Justin Dummer, Sr., 5-11, 215, TE

27, Jackson Everett, Jr., 5-8, 142, RB

7, Chase Frye, Sr., 6-3, 175, DB

10, Ethan Hansing, Jr., 5-8, 142, DB

37, Drew Hermanson, Sr., 6-0, 195, LB

69, Ben Holmquist, Jr., 5-11, 195, OL

Austin Knoll, Jr., 5-8, 225, OL/DL

44, Blake Knutdsen, Jr., 5-11, 185, LB

71, Garrett Knutson, Sr., 6-0, 200, OL/DL

55, Ryan Laatsch, Sr. , 5-9, 185, RB

18, Joseph Lipkman, Sr., 5-9, 128, QB

22, Adam Luiting, Sr., 5-10, 160, DB

1, Scott Mansur, Jr., 5-9, 185, RB

23, Trevor Marsden, Sr., 5-10, 160, DB

54, Matt Mawhinney, Sr., 6-1, 230, C

65, Myles Maxwell, Jr., , , OL/DL

82, Cole Moore, Jr., 6-1, 150, WR/K

68, David Munoz, Jr., 5-7, 195, OL/DL

88, Patrick O’Leary, Sr., 6-4, 230, TE/DL

16, Chaney Passer, Sr., , , WR/DB

47, Cole Peterson, Sr., 6-2, 195, DL

5, Isaac Phillips, Jr., 6-2, 185, QB

3, Noah Phillips, Jr., 6-1, 175, WR

Billy Pitzner, Jr., RB

15/6, Tatum Priewe, Sr., 6-2, 170, WR

30, Noah Pusateri, Jr., 5-8, 135, WR

78, Thomas Rakestraw, Jr., 6-4, 290, DL

25, Nick Richards, Jr., 6-2, 160, DB

34, Blake Ruiz, Jr., 5-10, 175, TE/LB

81, Connor Schoepe, Jr., 5-9, 143, WR

Garret Scott, Sr., OL

80, Phil Smecko, Sr., 6-4, 180, DL

13, Joey Stivarius, Sr., 5-11, 175, WR

52, Dylan Swerig, Sr., 5-10, 180, K/LB

21, Jacob Thiele, Jr., 5-11, 165, RB/DB

75, Bailey Valentine, Jr., 6-3, 260, DL

18, Quentin Wilson, Jr., 5-11, 169, WR/DB

20, Connor Zak, Sr., 5-7, 150, RB

46, Kyle Zucaro, Sr., 5-11, 185, LB

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