POSEN-Anybody driving past Posen High School in the evening has likely seen its football team rolling in the grass, doing sit-ups and performing a variety of conditioning exercises to prepare for its season-opener with Cedarville next week.
What might surprise many is the high number of players on the team (20) as well as the vigourousness with which the team performed its exercises.
"I just tried to do the best I can at structuring the practices. I've really placed an emphasis on fundamentals and strength and conditioning," Posen head coach Greg Pietsch said. "We've really been working hard these past few weeks and the kids have a real positive attitude."
News Photo by Jordan Travis
Posen football players line up for drills the second week of practice on Monday. Posen lost its top players from last year, but has a large squad of eager players ready to make a name for itself in eight-man football.
Posen's high levels of energy and positive may come as a surprise to many fans after the departure of long-time head coach Wayne Karsten, especially as Karsten was one of the primary architects of the Bridge 8-Man Alliance.
Any fears were likely soothed when Pietsch was named Karsten's replacement, as Vikings fans are likely to recognize and trust Pietsch as a Posen football fixture as he has over a decade of assistant football coaching experience.
The first step in Pietsch's preseason practice program was conditioning exercises designed to get his players in the best possible shape before the season starts.
"We've been doing a lot of grass drills. A lot of stretches, a lot of weight lifting and we've also done some drills without pads," Pietsch said.
Although these conditioning drills are vital for improving the strength and speed of his team, Pietsch's eager young squad was undoubtedly looking forward to last Friday, as this was the first day of pad practice.
Once the pads were strapped on, Posen could focus its second week on tackling, blocking, scrimmaging and all the physical techniques that make football such a thrilling, yet challenging sport.
"The kids have really been enjoying the tackling drills. They talked about it all last week and were ready to get going with it," Pietsch said.
The Vikings' larger numbers actually gave them the opportunity to run scrimmages during practice, a luxury that was often lacking when numbers were low.
All of these new challenges have actually drawn something to the team that it had lacked until this year: a girl.
This new player, sophomore Kelsey Jakubcin, is a strong and well-built star shot putter and discus thrower that has been welcomed to the team with open arms.
"I really think that she appreciates the workouts. She's really into the weight lifting and the strength and conditioning aspect of the sport," Pietsch said. "I think she really wanted to do it as a challenge and to be part of the team."
Jakubcin's older brother, senior Jordan Jakubcin, is a three-year starter for Posen team and has seen Posen's fortunes come and go during his tenure as a lineman.
He was a member of last year's 4-6 team, a team that looked like it was on the road to its biggest eight-man playoff success before injuries sidelined its most promising players.
Although those players have all graduated, Posen is excited to face a challenging Cedarville squad. Posen only lost to the yearly playoff contender by two points last year.
"I really think that some of the kids are really starting to count down to when the season kicks off. We have an extremely tough opponent the first round, in the first game of the season in Cedarville," Pietsch said. "We're going to do our best and try to get the kids in shape and get their mentality in the right spot and we'll go from there."
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.