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P-W to lean on new starters in state title defense

The Pirates graduated 15 starters from last year
Posted at 10:11 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 22:58:10-04
Pirates look to defend state title

The defending state champs from Pewamo-Westphalia took the practice field for real once again and they couldn't have been happier about it.

"It was a dream because we were not expecting to be out here this fall," junior running back Tanner Wirth said. "Once they gave us the go ahead to go it was just a great thing."

After three weeks with some practice but not much conditioning, getting back in shape quickly is at the top of the priority list for the Pirates.

"They have had a couple weeks off where we hadn't conditioned a whole lot," 8th year P-W head coach Jeremy Miller said, "But now we are back at it so now they got to get back in shape."

"Ah. It's not as bad," Wirth added when asked if he gets tired during conditioning. "We've been working still after they called the season."

P-W's 2019 season was incredibly impressive, 14-0, beat three defending state champions (Reading, New Lothrop, Lumen Christi) and allowed a total of 63 points all year.

This fall there will be a lot of new starters, especially on offense. The good news is a lot of players saw significant playing time because the Pirates were rarely in a competitive game in the second half last season.

"It has always been our philosophy when we get up big to get those starters out of there and get the kids that we are going to depend on in the future in the game," Miller added. "So a lot of these guys do have a lot of varsity experience so we feel comfortable with that we feel good about it I like where they are at we just have to fine tune some things over the next week and a half."

One player that won't be new to starting but will be new to the position on varsity is senior quarterback Jacob Thelen who played a lot of receiver as a junior.

"Just making sure I focus and try to learn," Thelen said. "Watching last year, watching Ethan (Thelen), making sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to do right and everything. Basically just focusing and making sure I'm doing everything right."

P-W expects to learn a lot more about where they are on Thursday when teams in Michigan are allowed to practice in full pads.

"Just getting up to speed and game contact," Miller said about what is important for his new starters. "We will find out more tomorrow when we can actually hit where they're at but that is the one thing I am probably concerned about it is getting them back, it has been a long time since they have actually tackled and fired into somebody full speed so we are going to have to do that real quick."

When the Pirates hit the field next Friday for the season opener they will have that swagger that comes with being one of just eight defending state champions in 11-player football.

"This year we have this mindset that we are the defending state champs we have to live up to that," Thelen said. "We are kind of all hype and just ready to get back out there and play."

P-W opens at Central Michigan Athletic Conference rival Laingsburg next Friday.