“More than a feeling” by Boston.
“Jump” by Van Halen.
“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins.
“Gloria” by Laura Branigan.
Yep, the Waverly Vikings football team started off its Thursday practice the right way with those classic tunes blasting through a stereo.
After a successful 2020 campaign where it finished 8-3 with a quarterfinal appearance in the Class B state playoffs, Waverly is heading into preseason camp with high expectations.
On Thursday, the Vikings held their fourth official practice of the season. Head coach Reed Manstedt will need to replace his top three rushers from 2020 in Zane Schawang (1,312 yards, 16 TDs), Evan Canoyer (665, 7) and Nolan Wiese (358, 3), as well as one of the two top receivers in Tyztin Hoos (13 catches, 161, 1 TD).
According to maxpreps.com, Waverly’s offense averaged 318.4 total yards per game last season, and 259 of which came via the rush. Look for a trio of backs to carry the ball this season, including Brock Gleason, Garrett Jenkins and Eddie Johnson.
All three of those backs had solid runs on Thursday. With it being the first week of practice, there wasn’t live scrimmaging or hitting, but Gleason, Jenkins and Johnson all did good things during the offensive drills. Out of those three, Jenkins had the most production last season with eight carries for 35 yards.
While the running back situation isn’t quite settled yet, the quarterback spot is with dual-threat senior Cole Murray.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Murray, who split time at quarterback last season with Wiese and had 765 total yards (431 passing, 334 rushing) and nine total touchdowns, looked very comfortable in the driver’s seat of the Vikings’ fast-paced spread offense on Thursday.
Murray clearly has a connection with senior wideout Riley Marsh, who recently committed to Minnesota State. The two connected on multiple passes Thursday.
Marsh looks like the prototypical wideout at 6-3, 180 pounds, and on Thursday he burned every scout team corner or safety, which is to be expected. He even stabbed a pass out of the air with his left hand for a touchdown during one rep. Marsh had 13 catches for 259 yards and two touchdowns as a junior.
Sticking with the offense, the Vikings’ O-line will have some dudes up front. The leader of that unit — and the team, really — is Trevor Brown, who enjoyed a monster junior campaign where he recorded a team-best 59 tackles with 32 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks as a defensive tackle. Brown was working at left tackle offensively on Thursday.
The 6-2, 270-pound Brown looks physically different than all of his teammates. He’s first-guy-off-the-bus material and will anchor both the O- and D-lines.
But it’s not just Brown on that O-line. Look for Wyatt Fanning and Jacob Krauter to be key pieces, too. Fanning, who was working at left guard, will be a three-year starter for Waverly. Krauter, at 6-2, 270 pounds, is coming off a knee injury from last season but looked like he was moving well at right tackle on Thursday.
Another player who will see a lot of snaps on both sides of the ball for Waverly is junior Cooper Skrobecki.
The tight end/linebacker was doing well in blocking drills on Thursday. Skrobecki, along with either Brown or Krauter, looked like a good combination in run blocking.
Skrobecki will also be leaned on defensively. Last season, Waverly’s D had three shutouts and held opponents to only 9.9 points per game.
Here’s a photo gallery of the practice: