New Berlin - The 2012 season already took a major turn for the New Berlin Eisenhower football team.
The Lions lost scheduled starting quarterback Charlie Sirek to a broken collarbone in last week's scrimmage, and the senior's return is uncertain.
"If they could reset it," head coach Jeff Setz said, "it would be four to six weeks. If he needs surgery, he could be out for the season."
Filling his shoes will be junior Nick Sommers, who was Sirek's backup on the varsity reserve team last season.
"He has quick feet," Setz said of Sommers. "We used him as our scout-team quarterback last season when we were preparing for an option team. We may use him as more of a runner than a thrower this year, although he is getting better with his throwing."
While Sommers gets his feet wet on the varsity level, the Lions will turn to their running game, led by junior tailback Nick Taylor and senior fullback Anthony Stewart.
When Sommers throws, he will look to senior wide receiver Nick Holicek and a pair of senior tight ends, Sandro Pesquiera and Brennan O'Brien.
The Lions should be boosted by an experienced offensive line with three returning starters in senior center Logan Grayson, senior guard Paul Gaber and senior tackle Zach Bernaden.
"We have strength in the line, with the three returnees, and with those two running backs (Taylor and Stewart), who both have run the ball quite a bit," Setz said.
The defense will be keyed by a corps of senior linebackers: O'Brien, Pesquiera, Turner Sagat and Gerald Bufford III.
"We have the linebackers with experience and plenty of senior leadership there," Setz said.
The defensive line will feature Stewart at nose guard and Gaber at tackle, and the defensive backfield includes a trio of juniors in Vince Gabrielsen, Nick Ganzke and Taylor.
"So far, I have been pleased with our line play, our running backs and our defense," Setz said. "At quarterback, we were inexperienced coming in and our most experienced guy is gone. That makes the passing game a concern."
Setz is looking forward to the challenges of the reconfigured Woodland Conference West Division, which features Wauwatosa West, Greendale, Pewaukee, New Berlin West and conference newcomer Pius XI.
The coach knows his team needs to find a way to beat Greendale and Pewaukee, which have been tough on the Lions at times, and he is happy to be back in the same division as rival New Berlin West.
He is also wary of Pius, which moves over from the rugged Classic 8 Conference.
"This division will be competitive," he said.
If the loss of Sirek is not a crushing blow, the Lions could still find themselves in the race.
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