Storm football hopes to gain “extra edge” during offseason practice


Photo: Tanner Krueger/The Simpsonian

by Megan Frank, Special to The Simpsonian

Every coach you ask will tell you that the offseason is just as important as the regular season. Those months are when athletes get bigger, faster and stronger. That is just what Storm football has been doing.

Now getting into the heart of their spring ball season, the team has been working on the fundamentals to give them that extra edge come Saturdays this fall.

“We just started practicing, but before that we were lifting four days a week,” said junior receiver Sam Bartlett. “Now we practice a few days a week without pads, and this is our first time doing team activities since last season.”

One of the most unique aspects of football, in comparison to other popular sports, is the physical aspect. Playing the game involves a high risk of injury, which is one of the perks of spring ball.

“You get to see the defense’s coverages in live time and how they change,” Bartlett said. “It’s pretty helpful, and it’s the healthiest way to keep us from getting hurt.”

Injuries play a major role when fall comes around. Losing senior quarterback Sam Sasso, the Storm needed a replacement, but with sophomore Tanner Krueger tearing his ACL just a few games in last season, they were without the player who may be their go-to guy for the 2018 season.

“Tanner is a great quarterback, so losing him was definitely a blow early on, but he’s an extremely hard worker,” said freshman linebacker Jake Morris. “He’s put in all the time to make the comeback.”

Krueger’s ACL tear wasn’t the only one that appeared to impact the team. Galen Gist, who will be a fifth-year senior in the fall, tore his ACL in July. His surgery took place in August, so he had plenty of time to recover for spring ball, but had to use his redshirt year for what would have been his senior season.

“This is my second significant injury,” Gist said. “The other one just took me out for spring but injuries hurt more than just the player. It’s hard to develop as a team, get to where you want to go and get the experience when you lose guys.”

Losing only three starters from last season, the team is looking to use spring ball as a chance to continue building chemistry and work on going deeper into the playbook.

“One of the biggest parts of spring ball is getting all the plays down, and if you’re thinking about playing multiple positions, you get the chance to move around and see things from different spots,” Bartlett said.

Next season will be a senior dominated roster, which provides many mentors and leaders to the younger athletes who will look to step up and make an impact in future seasons.

“The older guys in the program are the best leaders I could ask for,” Morris said. “College football involves a lot of commitment, so having all the hard-working upperclassmen to look up to helps a ton.”

With the combination of returning players and all of the hours spent in the weight room, Storm football looks to raise havoc in conference play next year.

“Our goal is to win the IIAC and take it from there,” Bartlett said. “And together, with this group of guys, we can get that done.”