SYRACUSE – Turn the calendar and you can expect the same thing from the Churubusco football program – and that is a positive. The Eagles will win a ton of games (they haven't had a losing season since 2004) and they will run the ball, be disciplined and well-coached.
'Busco coach Lee Etzler spoke recently with News-Sentinel sports editor Tom Davis.
News-Sentinel: Can you maintain the consistent level of success that this program has enjoyed?
Etzler: We hope so. The challenge is not only to maintain what we have done, but improve upon it. We have a good number of kids returning from last year, so we'd like to expand on some things that we've done.
News-Sentinel: What is the philosophy in developing young players to be able to step in immediately and contribute?
Etzler: A lot of the philosophy is to get them to enjoy what is going on as soon as they come into your program. We can't go through the middle school and say “That kid is going to be a good football player.” We don't know that yet. We try to get them to enjoy what is going on and sell them on the work ethic that we want them to have and hopefully have the most kids for the future that we can.
News-Sentinel: Who will be your quarterback this year?
Etzler: Jay Petrie is going into the season as our starting quarterback. He has relatively no experience because he's been injured and wasn't able to play a down last year. Hopefully we can keep him healthy. He has very good leadership ability. Jay has a chance to be the most positive-influence kid that we've had.
News-Sentinel: Normally you guys have two or three guys share the running load. Who will be carrying the ball this season?
Etzler: Jason Nicodemus is the one returning. He is a guy that a lot of people will know. Jason had over 1,700 yards last year. Cory Miller (306 yards, two touchdowns) returns to one of the halfback positions.
News-Sentinel: Who are the key defensive players? Probably a lot of the same names?
Etzler: Eric Kuznar started at defensive tackle, Brian Richardson started at noseguard, and those guys are back (as starters). Brient Hicks started at defensive tackle and Joe Zumbrun and Teegan Zumbrun at outside linebackers are back. Those five guys have a lot of experience, but we need to build the depth behind them. Even though we need to start kids both ways, it's not the best. If we can get away with playing a kid at a position and a half.
News-Sentinel: What about at linebacker?
Etzler: Jason has started the last two years. We were real impressed with him as a sophomore on a pretty good football team. He had bigger and better things last year and he's one of the better linebackers that we've had.
News-Sentinel: What do you think of the new IHSAA 'success' rule?
Etzler: I don't think that it is as big of a deal as some people make it out to be. How many teams is that going to affect year in and year out? Probably not a lot.