Chelsea Football Season Preview (with photos)

From the players 

Senior QB Quinn Starkey on transition back to QB after playing WR last year:“Well last year I would go half and half (with the QBs and WRs) because when you learn the QB position you learn the WR position. It’s just more getting repetitions in, like actually playing the position and getting movement down and stuff like that. The transition hasn’t been hard. Coach Lucas and Coach Schumann have been great, all the QBs have been working together, so it’s all good.”

Starkey on senior leadership with coaching change: “I feel the seniors have stepped up a ton, having your head figure step down and someone new come in, everyone’s gonna try to look to the new coach for all the answers. The seniors have definitely stepped up in their position groups and led the younger guys I would say.

Focus for Starkey this year: “Just being reliable, if anyone doesn’t know anything they can look towards me, and snap of a finger ‘you do this.’ Having that trust between your linemen, your skill guys, everyone being on the same page. Bringing guys in, learning everything together and realizing we’re all one unit. 

Senior WR Hunter Neff on what he’s looking to improve on in his last year: “More touchdowns, getting the ball in the end zone for sure”

Neff’s thoughts on Starkey sliding back to QB role: “We’ve been good friends since grade school, a lot of chemistry there, it should be fun for sure.”

Key Losses

Thomas Steele (QB)

Ronnie Buford (DE)

Owen Nikischer (LB)

Key Returning Players

Quinn Starkey (QB)

Hunter Neff (WR)

Holden Monica (OL)

Aaron McDaniels (RB)

Last Season: 9-2 (5-1), SEC White Champs, Lost in District Title vs. River Rouge

By: Seth Kinker, 

The Bulldogs kick off the season with first-year head coach Josh Lucas. Coach Brad Bush stepped down after 21 years as head coach earlier this summer. The rest of the football coaching staff remained intact and Bush is still the athletic director.

Josh Lucas, prior head coach of the Allegan football program, was announced as the new coach on May 7. Lucas has been back and forth since his hiring in May, finishing out his year at Allegan while preparing to take over as head coach at Chelsea. He spoke to The Sun Times during their mini-camp at the end of July.

“This is a big deal,” said Lucas on his first year as head coach. “This place is special, what’s been great is when Brad stepped down, usually guys are going to go with him. Nobody left. Having the support of our staff, them helping guide me along the way, and also Brad’s help too, has been huge. The guys we have, I think we have a heck of a staff and they’ve been allowing me to bring stuff we’re going to do, but then also remind me of some things they’ve done that has had success in the past.”

Before his three-year stint as head coach at Allegan, he coached for five years at Zeeland East as a quarterback’s coach and passing game coordinator. Offensively, he’ll bring more spread concepts to Chelsea, something he learned from Derek Pennington at Zeeland East.

“I learned a ton from him,” said Lucas. “I think he’s one of the best, if not the best spread guy, in the state of Michigan. I played at Hudsonville, we were not spread, kind of like what Chelsea was, a lot of under center stuff. If you’re a fan in the stand, watching something exciting is kind of what we want to do. It’ll be exciting, we’ve got the personnel to do it, it’ll be good. A smooth transition, not a super difficult concept so we’re excited, kids are doing a good job.”

As Lucas looks to implement some spread concepts into the offense, he told The Sun Times that players and coaches alike have done great job learning the concepts – and fairly quickly too.

The Bulldogs only return six starters total, four on offense and two on defense, but return a large number of players who saw the field last year on varsity. Senior Quinn Starkey slides back to quarterback after playing wide receiver for the majority of last year and senior wide receiver Hunter Neff will be a big target. Junior Kyle Knight played in different positions at their first annual blue and gold scrimmage on August 10 as Lucas looks to get his playmakers on the field.

Message to Chelsea football fans from Lucas: “My family and I are excited to be here, just get ready. It’s a change but it’ll be an exciting time and we’re doing what we have to do to keep this thing going. Brad worked his butt off for twenty plus years, we’re not going to be the group that’s going derail that progress.

Photos from Chelsea Blue and Gold scrimmage Aug. 10.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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