Boyne City football ready to break in next generation of talent

·4 min read
Boyne City head coach Dave Suttle talks things over with his players at the end of Wednesday's morning session of practice, which came as the first official day teams around the state could add shoulder pads.
Boyne City head coach Dave Suttle talks things over with his players at the end of Wednesday's morning session of practice, which came as the first official day teams around the state could add shoulder pads.

BOYNE CITY — Over the last decade, opponents have known who they’re going to have to prepare for in the Boyne City backfield.

From Maceo Vroman and Malik Smith in the early days, to the recent three-headed monster of Bobby Hoth, Kaden Jewett and Aaron Bess of the last three years, there’s been a pretty clear picture.

That’ll change at the start of 2022, with the Ramblers looking to surprise some people for the first time in a while.

“We might shock some people,” Boyne City coach Dave Suttle said. “We might be a little more diverse than people think. Our running game is going to stick in there.”

Boyne City's Mason Wilcox guards someone while keeping his eyes in the backfield during Wednesday's practice.
Boyne City's Mason Wilcox guards someone while keeping his eyes in the backfield during Wednesday's practice.

Shoulder pads came on for the first time of fall camp Wednesday for the Ramblers’ morning session of practices, with a bit more pop coming out of the players as well.

Still fighting a numbers game after having under 20 players at the varsity level a year ago, Suttle’s big thing in camp revolves around building depth and bringing along some younger guys during practice.

“Our biggest thing is, we’re developing depth,” said Suttle. “That’s it. We’re so flexible with our older kids because they’ve played so much football, then with our younger guys, once we find some of those pieces, we can move guys around.

“We didn’t have a bunch of numbers last year. It was right around 17-18 and it’s the same this year. So the freshmen last year in practice played a ton. Basically most of the starting JV team from last year practiced with us, was in the offseason workouts. So they’ll be ready to go.”

One area Suttle doesn’t have to quite worry about is the passing game led by three-year starting quarterback Jack Neer, who gets his favorite target back in 6-foot-4 wideout Alex Calcaterra as well. Then Mason Wilcox and Gavin Hewitt, both defensive standouts last season, will catch more passes, along with others up from the junior varsity like Tyler Lockman.

The other area Suttle has been pleased with is up front along the offensive and defensive lines, with Jacob Johnson, Connor Rajkovich and Nolan Little back, along with Will Brown moving into the offensive line from defense as well.

Boyne City's Will Brown started along the defensive front for the Ramblers a year ago and will help along the offensive line as well in 2022.
Boyne City's Will Brown started along the defensive front for the Ramblers a year ago and will help along the offensive line as well in 2022.

“We were just talking about how hard our linemen group worked this offseason,” said Suttle. “A lot of them are basketball players, half of them played baseball so they kind of got a late start, but I think they really took a little bit of what happened at the end of the year last year a little personal. They’ve looked good. They’ve studied hard this winter, even when they couldn’t get into the weight room as much as they wanted.

“Our initial experience is good. We’re a little undersized, but they’ve all put on 25-30 pounds this year and they’re tough. Will was 160 pounds last year, Jacob might have been 170 on his best day. They’re all pushing the 200-pound range this year and working really hard.”

The backfield is likely to come as a committee workload at the start, though Joey McHugh looks poised to step into a larger role, while keeping his all-state middle linebacker duties.

“Joey just played linebacker for us but he’s a nasty little tailback,” said Suttle. “He’s not as shifty as Bobby is, but he’s strong and he’s going to have a good year. There’s some sleepers out there. There’s been some kids waiting in the wings. They’ve been antsy. The program was in a little bit of a transition when Kaden, Aaron and Bobby were coming in as young guys and they put in a lot of work and effort. In order to un-seat someone like that, you’ve really got to be better. It’s kind of hard to be better than those three.”

Longtime Boyne City assistant coach Mike McShane works with his defensive line during one-on-one drills Wednesday at Boyne City.
Longtime Boyne City assistant coach Mike McShane works with his defensive line during one-on-one drills Wednesday at Boyne City.

The Ramblers are coming off a 9-2 campaign a season ago and open the 2022 season on the road at Benzie Central on Friday, Aug. 26, before then getting in the home opener against Cheboygan on Friday, Sept. 2.

They’ll also get in a scrimmage next week against Sault Ste. Marie, a team that should match Boyne’s physicality and give Suttle a good look at the talent he’s been waiting on.

“They’re not on the schedule this year and we’re looking forward to seeing them,” he added. “That’ll be a good scrimmage for us and tell us a lot.”

Like every season in Boyne City, there’s guys that'll step up and play beyond where coaches and others believed they’d be, it’s just a process to becoming one of those household names.

Contact Sports Editor Drew Kochanny at dkochanny@petoskeynews.com. Follow him on Twitter, @DrewKochanny, and Instagram, @drewkochanny

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Boyne City football ready to break in next generation of talent