Can success come from tragedy?
That, in the end, may be the ultimate hope for second-year Nicolet football coach Dave Quam, his staff and his players as they deal with the sad aftermath of the tragic death of projected starter Tyler Webb on Aug. 15 (see separate column in news).
And though no amount of gridiron success this fall can salve the pain of Webb's loss, maybe some honor and dignity can spread forth in the coming months and make everything that's happened in the last week a little easier to take for Webb's family and the Knights.
It was going to be a positive year. Though graduation took several top performers including All-Suburban linebacker Hunter Crass, running back Treland Jenkins, Zach Pagel and others, there is reason for hope here.
First of all, Quam is the first coach in more than five years to come back for a second season and furthermore, overall numbers are up about 20 to around 80 overall.
"We're really pleased," Quam said. "Kids talked to other kids and told them that this (the team) was a good place to be, that the coaches were good to you. In fact, kids who had not been out in a couple of years came back and are participating again. That's a very positive thing for us."
And though the senior class is smaller than expected, Quam said the quality of the players in the group is very high.
"Still, we're anticipating having more depth than we've had in years," he said. "We're working on having a lot more guys play just one way or just half-time at a second position. We have more kids who can really play and that keeps everyone fresher.
"We'll shuttle kids and try to keep them fresh. On offense, we have a lot of competition for spots and that is a positive."
The scrimmage that was scheduled for last Saturday (Aug.17), which would have clarified a few of those position battles, was canceled, so the Knights looked to settle those issues when they resumed practice earlier this week.
They host Waukesha South in their opener at 7 p.m. Friday.
Key people to be relied on defense include junior linebacker Justin Wallace, senior defensive lineman Mohamed Dawod, senior two-way lineman Matt Appleby, senior defensive backs Miles Randolph and Alex Baez and senior linebacker Danny Zenge.
On offense for the Wing-T set, key hopefuls include Wallace at tight end, junior running back Tyler Wright, Baez and Randolph at quarterback and junior receiver Isaah Radix. Quam said he could rotate as many eight players along the lines this season and that the guards he has appear to have good quickness.
"We're still shaking some things out," he said.
Quam is grateful for the way the school has rallied around the team in the face of this tragedy.
"I always knew I worked at a great school and they just reminded me how many high-quality people work there," he said.
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- Sports Wraps: Dec. 3
- Sports Wrapups: Nov. 26
- Sports Shorts: Nov. 21
- In light of Webb's tragedy, Nicolet football did the best it could
- Nicolet's Worlton earns third in state breaststroke
- Sports Shorts: Nov. 14
- Worlton leads Nicolet swimmers to state meet
- Sports Wrapups: Nov. 5
- Sports Wrapups: Oct. 29
- Sports Shorts: Oct. 24