A group of talented seniors helped Beloit Turner rebound from an injury-marred 2016 and back into the playoffs with a seven-win season in 2017. Now, a rising group of Trojans upperclassmen take their places after also starting for most of the past two years.
"It's always tough to replace character and leadership, and it's not always easy to do at a school our size," said coach Diehl, "but we're pretty excited about our senior class this year. Most of them were playing as sophomores."
On offense, Kenny Draeving will be back at quarterback after a sophomore season in which he had a 14:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and also added four rushing touchdowns. Back to power the ground game is first-team all-conference running back Kyle Hanaman, who ran for 1,087 yards in 10 games with 13 touchdowns. His primary backup, Emiliano Reyes, is back as well after going for 653 yards and a half-dozen scores.
The line will see some turnover, most notably Brandon Malkow's graduation leaving a big hole at tackle. And, only three passes total were caught by returning Trojans last season, with the outstanding Juan Reyes and Sereno Ferone graduating as well.
Defensively, the line is one of the strong points, with Adrian Estrada back after getting first-team all-conference honors. Hanaman and Reyes man the linebacker group, fourth and fifth on the team in stops last season, with Andrew Ries rejoining them after missing two games with injury last season (finishing sixth on the team in tackles). Safety Mickey Burrows was second on the team in tackles, and will lead a rebuilding secondary in 2018.
Special teams has "one more year with a kicker," as coach Diehl put it, with Emiliano Reyes returning. His older brother, Juan, handled most of the kicking and punting duties, but it'll fall to the younger Reyes for his senior season, something he also did a good job of as a sophomore filling in for his older brother (and earning second-team all-conference honors as a kicker that season).
Turner gets five home games in the Rock Valley scheduling this season, and it'll start with a home game against Whitewater in Week 1. After a road game against Big Foot, the Trojans return home for a big match-up with the up-and-coming McFarland Spartans on August 31.
September begins with a road trip to Evansville/Albany, before coming home to play Brodhead/Juda. Turner will be the Homecoming opponent for Edgerton in Week 6 before hosting their own Homecoming festivities against Jefferson on September 28. A difficult finish to the season continues with a home game against Clinton on October 5, and a regular-season finale against East Troy.
Here is The Big 1070's interview with Beloit Turner Trojans head coach Derek Diehl:
Turner Trojans (Beloit) - Rock Valley
Head Coach: Derek Diehl (4th Season) 17-12 (7th Overall, 27-30) (0-3 Playoffs)
2017 Result: 7-2 (7-3), 3rd in the Rock Valley (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 4 playoffs to Platteville, 54-42)
Three-Year Record: 17-12 (0-2 Playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 8 First-Team, 1 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (12 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 17 First-Team, 12 Second-Team, 9 Honorable Mention (38 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (4): RB/LB Kyle Hanaman [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-RB), Sr.; G/DT Adrian Estrada [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-DL), Sr.; QB/RB/LB/K/P Emiliano (Nano) Reyes (1st Team-LB; 2nd Team-K in 2016), Sr.; RB/S Mickey Burrows (HM-DB), Jr.
Other Players To Watch: FB/Edge Joey Yuhas, Sr.; RB/DL JoVon'te Coleman, Sr.; RB/DB Kyle Vanderkooi, Sr.; LB/FB Forrest Haasl, Sr.; QB/DB Brady Card, Sr.; LB/FB Cory Walker, Sr.; DB/WR Thai Ransom, Sr.; TE/LB Blake Christianson, Sr.; DB/WR Ty'Shone Lomax, Sr.; T/DT Cody Krueger, Sr.; C/LB Kaleb Schoville, Sr.; NT Kevin Arroyo, Sr.; T/DL Brandon Johnson, Sr.; QB/Edge/P Ken Draeving, Jr.; WR Dai'Vontrelle Strong, Jr.; FB/LB Andrew Ries, Jr.; DE/TE Trey Griinke, Jr.; DB/RB Treveon Bivens, Jr.; OL/DL Kolton Berger, Jr.; T/DE Ryan Sennett, Jr; NT/OL Allen Aliu, Jr.; FB/LB Aiden Diehl, So.
BIG Games: at Evansville/Albany, September 7; vs Clinton, October 5; at East Troy, October 12