First-year coach Corey Fickiesen and the South Central Trojans are trying their best to make the right choices this season.
“The main thing that we’ve been talking about, it’s kind of become our motto for the team, is ‘Choose.’ That’s what we are trying to instill in this new program and this new culture that I’m trying to create here,” Fickiesen said. “Everything you do, you have a choice. Whether you want to run that extra sprint, or you want to go a little bit harder. We’re making that choice to do extra, we’re making that choice to be better than what other people expect from us.”
Fickiesen, an Ashland University product, has been with the Trojans for the last three years as their offensive coordinator, quarterbacks’ coach and defensive backs’ coach. He was named head coach earlier this offseason.
The 24-year old is inheriting a team that went 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the Firelands Conference a year ago.
South Central’s biggest strength this season is that it has eight returners on both sides of the ball — including most of their offensive and defensive lines.
“We will be returning Zach Brown, who is a senior, and then we have three juniors — Wyatt Caudill, Cole Wasniak and Tyler Sherer. So those guys that had some solid minutes on the offense and all those guys are going to flip over on to defense as well.”
Fickiesen is excited to have such a seasoned line.
“We haven’t had that stability up front and in high school football, it’s hard to win games if you don’t have those guys up front. We have really good, smart kids coming back who understand what we’re trying to do and that’s huge. We’ve already seen it in practice. We’re able to put in our stuff a lot quicker and we look a lot better running the football.”
Returning skill players for the Trojans include wide receviers Ben Lamoreaux, Cristiano Murphy and Josiah Wright and running backs Tycen Cooper and Marcus McCormack.
“These guys are in a position where they’ve done it before, so now they’ll be able to hopefully go out and succeed a lot more. Marcus and Tycen will be huge for us. Marcus has played running back for four years and Tycen was really good for us last year as well. So that’s kind of what we’re going to try to hang our hat on here. If we can establish it, the running game will be big for us.”
South Central’s newest offensive weapon will be its’ sophomore quarterback Evan Legg.
“We started prepping Evan last year,” Fickiesen said. “We had Aaron (Lamoreaux) who was a senior, and we knew that this day would come. It’s been a year-long process for him. He played really well last year when we needed him to and he has worked his butt off all summer. I mean, he has been to everything and plus more all summer long. But he is still a sophomore and I have to continue to tell myself that, because there are times that I get after him. He’s going to have bumps here and there. My goal is for all these other guys who are upperclassmen, to take some of that weight off his shoulders and when they have the football in their hands make some plays.”
The Trojan defense has a lot of familiar faces as well, with the offensive line flipping to the other side of the ball. Cooper, McCormack and Caudill will lock down the linebacker positions — an area Fickiesen believes to be a strong suit.
“They’re all three kids who have played a lot of football and they’re all kids that are able to find the football on the defensive side. Marcus has probably been one of our best defenders all four years that he’s been here and Tycen led the team in tackles last year. So those two have a lot of good experience. Wyatt Caudill is just one of those kids that every coach wants on his team. He works tremendously hard. Anything we ask of him he does. He is going to find the football, that’s just what he does. So, we’re looking for that group to really step up.”
The Black and Gold have some speed in the secondary with Murphy and Wright at safety and Ben Lamoreaux at cornerback.
“We have some things to work on in the secondary, but I believe it’ll end up being one of our strengths as well.”
An added bonus for the Trojans is their special teams, where they have an experienced kicker in Wright.
“At a small school, you’re just trying to pick anyone and everyone that can hopefully make an extra point. With (Wright) being a former soccer player, he’s just good with his feet. It is a true advantage, because now offensively, if we get within a certain distance, it’s almost like ‘Okay, at least we’ve got three (points).’ A lot of times at small schools, you don’t have that and you’re usually going for it on fourth down and turning the ball over. It’s a huge advantage.”
Fickiesen isn’t unaware of the toughness of the Firelands Conference, but believes South Central will be able to make a statement this season.
“We have some teams in our conference that are good,” he said. “And even the ones that you’re unsure about, they’re going to put up a fight every single year. That’s because every team knows each other so well, these kids play each other in every sport, they want to win. They want to beat them. Any year and every year that I’m here our goal is to compete for the conference. That’s every team’s goal. But we’re going to take it one game at a time and see where we’re at. Our main focus right now is Seneca East and we’ll go on from there.”