Big Rapids football team re-tools during camp

Big Rapids junior Sam Alley attempts a pass during team camp on Monday. Alley is one of three Cardinals competing for the starting quarterback job. (Pioneer photo/Maxwell Harden)

BIG RAPIDS —  Summer will be ending soon, which means football season is right around the corner.

The Big Rapids football team was hard at work Monday during day one of summer camp activities.

Big Rapids finished with a 5-5 (4-3) record in 2018 and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2015. The Cardinals lost 20 seniors to graduation, 14 of which were four-year players.

That being said, the Cardinals do have plenty of talent coming back. Jacob Alber and DJ Greenbay return on the offensive line and will be entering their third year of varsity play. Zack Roach will return after being sidelined most of the 2018 season with a broken collarbone. Larry Rodgers and Trevin Rosenogle will return to lead the linebacking core.

“We’re light on seniors this year,” head coach Mike Selzer said. “We only have five returning seniors. But DJ and Alber will be third-year guys for us. We just don’t have the numbers this year that we’ve had in the past. We’re hoping to get 22 kids where we’ve been 32 to 28.

“We’ve got a small senior class so it makes it a little tougher on us.”

Roach, along with juniors Sam Alley and Sawyer Meeuwes, will be competing for the starting quarterback spot vacated by last year’s starter Jayden Mason.

“Sam has been here all summer long and has been working his tail off,” Selzer said. Zack was slotted to be our backup last year before he broke his collarbone. Sawyer was the JV backup quarterback. We have three guys pushing for that job and we’ll see how that turns out.

“All three of them are very capable.”

The varsity and junior varsity squads worked closely with one another during practice. The Cardinals will also participate in Montrose High School’s annual veer camp next week.

“It’s a great time,” Selzer said. “The amount of work they’ll get done in those three days of camp is something we can’t replicate here. You need that competition from Rochester Adams, Montrose, Muskegon. It’s good when you get 17-20 veer teams that are running the same thing together.”

The veer is a type of offense where there are two backs in the backfield, one behind each guard or tackle, which allows for a triple action play where either one of the backs or the quarterback is selected to run the ball. For Selzer and his team, the veer offense carries many advantages.

“We talked with the kids today that most teams have their best athletes at defensive end,” Selzer said. “In our scheme, we don’t have to block him. If we do what we’re supposed to do, no matter what he does, he’s wrong. It helps smaller teams because you’re getting 2-on-1 blocking and 3-on-1 blocking. It helps because instead of relying on the big stud to push 1-on-1 we’re getting the numbers in our favor.”

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