New Berlin - Injuries may have hurt the New Berlin Eisenhower football team this season, but don't tell that to classy veteran coach Jeff Setz.
"Injuries happen to every team," he said. "Just look at the Green Bay Packers. They are going through that right now. We needed to do a better job of coaching the other players who stepped in. We didn't do that."
Eisenhower finished with a 3-5 record, which tied Pius XI for fifth in the new six-team Woodland Conference-West Division. The Lions finished 8-3 the year before with a second-place 4-1 record.
"We pretty much have the same goals every year. Stay healthy, win conference and make the playoffs," Setz said.
The first goal went out the window when nine players didn't finish the season. That was crucial for the Lions, especially when two of the injuries were quarterback.
First, senior quarterback Charlie Sirek broke his collarbone; then Nick Sommers stepped in and suffered a concussion.
Junior Vince Gabrielsen, who had played wide receiver/defensive back, then took over the rest of the year, until Sirek returned for the final game.
"He improved week after week," Setz said. "With the quarterback position there is not only the physical part of the game, but he has to learn the mental aspects also."
The Lions also fell short of their conference goal as well as making the playoffs, although it went right down to the final game for the latter.
"With Pewaukee, an improved Tosa West and an always tough Greendale team, we just came up short."
Setz had particular praise for two seniors - Nick Holicek and Turner Sagat.
Holicek was an unknown coming into the season and made some big plays for the Lions, especially as a kickoff and punt returner.
Sagat, a linebacker, was the team's leading tackler and an all-conference selection for the third year in a row.
"He had a sore shoulder and he kept playing," Setz said. "He showed how tough he was because he was not 100 percent."
Running back Nick Taylor was the team's rushing leader with 663 yards (8.2 yards per attempt) and eight touchdowns. When Anthony Stewart returned from injury he added 286 yards (5.2) and four scores. Steve Harrell had five touchdowns rushing and 252 yards.
Gabrielsen led the team with passing yards with 297 and two scores while Holicek topped the team with 284 receiving yards (17.8) and three touchdown catches.
Senior tackle Paul Gaber and sophomore place-kicker Nathan Erickson were named to the first-team Woodland-West offensive team and Sagat and Holicek made it on defense.
Senior Zach Bernaden (OL), Taylor (RB), and Stewart (DL) earned honorable mention honors and Sirek was a scholar-athlete.
The Lions lose 26 seniors - Holicek, Sirek, Stewart, Sagat, Gaber, Gerald Bufford III, Luke Bickelhaupt, Emmett Wood, Alex Chartier, Jared Hageny, Sandro Pesqueira, Ronald Przybysz, Brennan O'Brien, Chris Reindl, Derek Wiedmeyer, Nick Marszalkowski, Ben Clark, Zach Szaniawski, Colin Hogan, Logan Grayson, Zach Bernaden, Keenan Kulju, Andrew Oswald, Steven Sakar, Matt Becker and Ryan Kurudza.
- Tom 'Sky' Skibosh
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