Seniors will lead charge for Bulldog football
The 2021 football season was difficult for the Culver Bulldogs.
With just two seniors on the roster, the team struggled to a 1-7 season. However, this year is filled with optimism as second-year head coach Brian Silbernagel returns virtually his entire starting lineup.
"I know in week one, moving into week two this year we are tremendously farther ahead on the offensive side of the ball than we were last year," Silbernagel said at a recent practice. "This year we are still lagging on the defensive side because we are getting multiple fronts put in, but we will get there. Defensively and offensively we are light years ahead of where we were last year at this point."
The Bulldogs currently have 28 players on the roster, and expect to continue adding players until school starts.
Four returning players, now seniors, earned all-Tri-Rivers League honors after last season, including Logan Macy, who earned second team quarterback and defensive back honors. Lineman Peter Miranda was also a second team selection. Linebacker Ethan Russo and lineman Max Jaimes each earned honorable mention last year.
"Logan is a dynamic football player that will see time at running back, wide receiver and quarterback. Look for Logan to put up strong offensive numbers this year," said Silbernagel.
With a deep lineup of returning players with varsity experience, Silbernagel expects his team to not only improve on last year's record, but to contend for a state playoff position.
"We have a lot of familiar faces," he said. "We will be leaning on those upper classmen â€“ the seniors now. They have been around football a long time now, and it's time for them to reap the rewards. We believe that we can be a top 16 team in the state and make our way into the playoffs."
Silbernagel is also pleased with the leadership he has seen from his seniors.
"We had a pretty good upper classman showing in the weight room this past summer and it's carried over," he said. "We need to stay healthy and then just go to work every day on the field."
Still, the 2022 football season is going to be something of an unknown as the OSAA has adopted new rules for Class 2A football. The classification will be playing nine-man instead of 11-man football.
On the plus side, that means that teams with less depth can still compete. However, that also means that the game has changed significantly.
Nationally, when teams play nine-man football, the field is adjusted to just 80 yards in length. The field is also narrower than a regulation field. However, the OSAA failed to make changes in field size, meaning that speed will be at a premium as getting runners or receivers into open space may just mean that there is no one there to tackle them.
This should lead to some high-scoring, exciting offensive football.
"There is a lot of space, so on offense we are going to try to get our guys the ball in open space and then on the defensive side of the ball, we just have to tackle in open space," Silbernagel says.
Because of the rule changes, Silbernagel expects to use different packages of players on defense, depending on the down and distance.
"It's down and distance, so we are going to have a package with bigger guys and then on second and long, third and long, with passing situations we have another set of personnel that's going to come on the field," he said. "All the kids are excited. They get to fly around sideline to sideline. Especially the defensive end position really gets to pin their ears back at times and get after it."
Although with two fewer players on the field some sets might change, the Bulldogs are using the same terminology as last year, which should make the transition easier.
The team opens the season at home against Weston McEwen High School. Due to official shortages, that game will be played on Saturday night, Sept. 3, at the Culver field, starting at 7 p.m.
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