FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Port primed for postseason run

Big three back to lead Pirates after qualifying for playoffs two straight years

AFTER MAKING THE playoffs two straight seasons, Port Washington looks to make a postseason run this year behind key players such as (front row, from left) Collin Stull, Justine Wicke, Brandon Kelling, Zach Scharpe, Jason Gourley, Nolan Makoutz, Hunter Kanneberg, Adam Baierl, Will Stopczynski, (back row) Jacob Lippe, Deron Spicer, Devon Edwards, Mitchell Niemeyer, Dylan Nieoff, Adam Leister, Beau Fleischmann, Elliot Wiegerling, Isaac Bensen, Deion Edwards and Solomon Felicien. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Two years ago, Jacob Lippe led Port Washington High School’s football team in catches and receiving yards, Deron Spicer was seven yards from tying for second in rushing yards and Adam Baierl was an up-and-coming quarterback.
All were sophomores on a team that qualified for the playoffs for the first time in nine years.
Those three led Port in all major offensive categories last year in earning another postseason berth. Port went 5-4 in the North Shore Conference and 5-5 overall.
Now, they’re seniors and looking to lead the Pirates well beyond a first-round playoff exit.
“We’re definitely fortunate right now. We’ve got a great, strong senior class,” coach John Bunyan said.
Lippe made the North Shore Conference first team the past two seasons at receiver and defensive back. Last year, he caught 48 balls for 591 yards and five touchdowns, along with 36 tackles and two interceptions.
Lippe will lay the slot this year and get the ball downfield and in the backfield, Bunyan said.
Spicer ran for 976 yards and 13 touchdowns on 161 carries for 6.1 yards per rush,  and made the NSC second team. Bunyan said he has again looked strong so far.
Baierl last year earned NSC honorable mention status after completing 85 of 160 passes for 991 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. He ran for 607 yards and eight touchdowns on 143 carries. He made the NSC second team and will again be a dual-threat quarterback.
Besides Lippe, Baierl will look to junior wide receiver Mitchell Niemeyer and tight end Dylan Niehoff, both starters last year.
Devon Edwards will play H-back after making the NSC second team last year. He caught 19 balls for 263 yards and two scores.
Niehoff, Bunyan said, picked up 15 to 20 pounds and is much stronger at the point of attack. Edwards looks faster and more agile.
“They all gained some weight and are looking bigger, stronger and faster,” Bunyan said.
On the offensive line, senior Beau Fleischmann will start at center. Ray Bensen will play guard, along with a few guys competing for the spot, including junior Isaac Bensen and Collin Stull and Jack Maciejewski.
Juniors Elliot Wiegerling and 300-pound Aidan Leister will fill the tackle positions. Deion Edwards and others will rotate in.
The line, Bunyan said, has been catching on quickly. The tackles have some beef and the guards can pull well.
The offense’s level of experience has let Port start ahead of the game.
“I think this is the farthest ahead we’ve been as far as insertion of offense. Our kids can line up and run stuff and be comfortable with it,” Bunyan said.
Up front on defense, a young, lean Nolan Makoutz will play nose guard, and Deion Edwards and Isaac Bensen will play tackle.
“We’re fast. We’re going to be more of a team that’s slanting up front,” Bunyan said.
At defensive end, Devon Edwards, Spicer and Niehoff will rotate to spell each other, given they play both ways. Spicer was a second team all-conference linebacker last year.
Sophomore Ray Bensen and junior Hunter Kanneberg will play inside linebackers. Jason Gourley and Stull will play outside.
Lippe is moving from corner to free safety to better use his talents. Junior Justin Wicke will play strong safety.
Zach Sharpe made the NSC second team at cornerback last year. Brandon Kelling are the cornerbacks.
Sharpe will call the defense, leading “a whole bunch of seniors on that side of the ball,” Bunyan said.
That experience again puts the Pirates at a level Bunyan would expect to reach in the second week of the regular season.
“We’re definitely ahead of the game. We can read defenses a little better. Communication has improved,” he said.
The competition is ongoing at kicker, but Will Stopczynski looks good, he said. Niehoff had a good camp as punter.
Lippe earned NSC honorable mention status as a utility player for his prowess in returning kicks and punts.
Bunyan said his numbers are low — he has only 30 players — “but I love my 30,” he said, “just because of the versatility of some of those guys.”
Expectations — after two years qualifying for the playoffs — are not low.
“We talk about it. We want to move on and do more than just make the playoffs. Now it’s time to win some games,” Bunyan said.
So far, Bunyan said he is happy with what he has seen.
“I’m super proud of my kids. They really have been working hard. They’re a great group. They hung together, stuck together. I’m excited about their leadership,” he said.
Bunyan listed co-champ Homestead, Slinger and Hartford as top conference title contenders. Co-champ Whitefish Bay, he said, lost many skilled athletes to graduation.
Port’s season gets underway Friday when it hosts Homestead.




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