FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: Trojans to rely on depth to succeed in 2014Fairfield to play five games on newly named Pearl Smith Field
The Trojans walked dejectedly off a rain-soaked field last October, eliminated from the postseason in the first round by Pella. The wetness seeped through their pads, while the gloom seeped into their skin. The mission this season is to never let that feeling seep in again.
Loaded with offensive depth and defensive promise, Fairfield will take to Pearl Smith Field this fall to begin what could be a new era of Trojan football. Dual-threat sophomore quarterback Cameron Baumann will get a full season under center after taking over mid-way through 2013.
Baumann started the final five games, finishing up with a quarterback rating of 128.2. Even with the small workload, he still managed to score 23 total touchdowns and amass nearly 1,500 yards.
“[Cameron’s] arm is stronger, but he’s all around physically stronger than last season,” head coach Mike Schenck said. “We may count on him running the ball more this year than we did last year.”
In addition to Baumann, senior Tanner Deao had a strong camp and will be a reliable backup. This year’s Trojan offense is like this across the board: two deep and extremely reliable.
“We feel that we can go two deep basically in every position without any drop off,” offensive coordinator Matt Schenck said. “This is good because it will allow us to play kids on both sides of the ball and still get them breaks when they need it.”
Two newcomers will likely take the first team reps at running back. Fejon Redd, who comes to Fairfield from Burlington, is looking the starting running back position (as well as a linebacker spot) square in the face. Just a junior, Redd’s powerful frame looks durable enough to take on the assignment. From Chicago comes LaQuan Hill, who will receive backfield snaps as well. Senior Dakota Nye rounds out the backfield, which overall could be very formidable in 2014.
Last year’s starting running back, Nick Jackson, has been moved to wide receiver for his senior campaign. Matt Schenck hopes to place Jackson into the a slot role (think Dexter McCluster) where he can catch short passes near the line of scrimmage but also run long pass patterns. With Jackson in the slot, juniors Alex Crile and Jordan Reid will see time split out at wide receiver because of their playmaking abilities.
“Moving Nick into the slot will give us three starting receivers we are comfortable with,” Matt Schenck said.
The men up front will likely provide a mix of experience and growing pains. Senior center Cody Craff, who stands 6-foot-1-inches and weighs 330 pounds, will anchor the offensive line. Fellow seniors Cody White and Dillan Carlson will join Craff up front. Senior Justin Kyle, along with sophomores Michael Fritz and Chris Hanson, will be in the mix for the final spots.
“For the most part they’re a young and inexperienced group,” Mike Schenck said. “But they have made some strides, and I think they’re getting better everyday. It’s not the biggest line in the world, but we’ve got some guys who are feisty and are willing to stick their noses in there.”
Defensively, coordinator Tyler Miklo loses eight seniors who saw considerable playing time last season. One of those seniors, Mason Ellis, led the team with 51 tackles.
“No question we will have to have some guys step up after what we lost from last year, but we do have a lot of guys with varsity playing experience,” Miklo said.
Alex Christensen and Redd will likely see time at linebacker. Expect seniors Dakota Nye and Zane Richmond to lead the secondary. Just like on offense, Fairfield has plenty of players to plug into the system.
“I think our defense has the opportunity to be very solid,” Miklo said. “We have a talented group. It will depend mostly on how willing our guys are to fill new roles for our team this year.”
Like most seasons, Fairfield will play a grueling schedule. After an away game at Davis County to open up the year, the Albia Blue Demons come to Trojan Stadium. Albia made it all the way to the UNI-Dome in Class 2A in 2013, and began their season with a 47-0 victory over Fairfield. Two games later, Fairfield travels to rival Washington for the second year in a row. The Demons went 12-2, dominated the district, but fell to Bishop Heelan Catholic (Sioux City) in the Class 3A title game last November. Albia and Washington combined to go 24-3, with the only loses coming at the hands of powerhouses Bishop Heelan Catholic, Pella and Waukon.
Fort Madison, Keokuk and Mt. Pleasant come next. Keokuk was able to eek out a 10-6 road victory over the Trojans last year, but the other two schools will be looking to exact revenge. Fairfield put up 52 points on the scoreboard against the Panthers and 36 on the board against Fort Madison in an overtime thriller.
Next come two new district opponents, neither of which will be easy victories. Davenport Assumption, typically a Class 4A perennial power, was moved down to Class 3A and placed into district 5 with the Trojans. The Knights were 9-1 before being upset by Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
“Assumption is going to be the power,” Mike Schenck said. “Historically they’re a lock for the postseason in 4A every year. We’re going to see a real, real quality team in Assumption.”
To close out the season, Fairfield will welcome Clear Creek-Amana, which finished last season 4-5. Overall, the Trojans will face four teams that made the postseason in 2013.
Fairfield’s mission to make the postseason for the sixth consecutive year and to finish north of the .500 mark will start Friday at Davis County in Bloomfield.
2014 Fairfield Football Varsity Schedule
8/29 @ Davis County
9/05 vs. Albia
9/12 vs. Knoxville
9/19 @ Washington
9/26 Fort Madison
10/03 @ Keokuk
10/10 Mt. Pleasant (Homecoming)
10/17 @ Davenport, Assumption
10/24 Clear Creek-Amana
Class 3A District 5 2013 Records
Team, District Record, Overall Record
Washington* 6-0 12-2
Davenport Assumption* 8-1 9-2
Fairfield* 3-3 4-6
Keokuk 3-3 4-5
Clear Creek-Amana 2-4 4-5
Fort Madison 1-5 2-7
Mount Pleasant 0-6 0-9
* — playoff qualifier
** – Fairfield competed in Class 3A District 7 in 2013 with Fort Madison, Mt. Pleasant, Washington, Keokuk, Williamsburg and Centerville. Williamsburg (8-3) and Centerville (4-6) joined Washington and the Trojans in the postseason.
Head Coach: Mike Schenck, 25th year
Key Returnees: QB Cameron Baumann (So.), WR Nick Jackson (Sr.), WR Alex Crile (Jr.),
Key Newcomers: RB Fejon Redd (Jr.), RB LaQuan Hill (Sr.)