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From the players

Colin Parachek makes a throw downfield against Chelsea in 2018. Photo by Mike Williamson

Junior quarterback Colin Parachek goes into this season as the unquestioned starter after a breakout sophomore year that had him break multiple school records. Parachek on the level of focus in the program after their first trip to the playoffs last year: “Nobody was satisfied with last year. It was amazing, can’t sell that short, but it wasn’t as far as we wanted to go. This year it is clear that the guys want to not only prove it was a one-time thing but go farther than we did.”

Parachek on his offseason: “I focused a lot on the mental aspect of the game. Learning how to make the game easier for me and my teammates. (I) learned everything from coverages to studying more film so that we can know what the other team will be doing.”

Parachek on progress of the offense: “Our entire offense is so much more complex. It allows for everyone to make the most of every play. (We) have signals for pre snap reads and routes, lineman have calls if they see a defensive front that they know won’t work for our play. We have so much freedom with the offense and it allows for me to make the most of every play.”

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Parachek on what he wants offense to do better this season: “Convert in the red zone, had way too many possessions that ended without touchdowns inside the 30-yard line.”

Parachek on what he’s telling younger players: “That it’s the same game. We’re really just trying to prepare because we know everyone is capable. It helps a lot that this year’s juniors all played JV as Freshman. That gave everyone the experience of playing older opponents all year. We are really trying to emphasize Coach Jacobs mindset if 1-0 every rep, play, game, and season.”

Jordan Watson running the ball downfield last year he’ll see more time at running back this year. Photo by Dawn Miller

Senior Jordan Watson returns to a defense that returns experience on the front seven. Watson missed 5 games last year after dislocating his elbow against Tecumseh. Watson on helping his replacement, Matt Gaechter: “When I first got hurt I was more angry about it. But I learned that I could use it to teach and get (Gaechter) better. I just had to focus on getting back and getting healthy.”

Watson on the defense this year: “I feel like we’ve gotten a lot stronger. We look more athletic in my eyes. Our linebackers, we’ll miss Evan and Krekse but we still have me, Gaechter got a lot of game time experience. Marc Young is back. Our two starting defensive tackles come back.”

Watson on what he enjoys about playing linebacker and running back: “I like linebacker, I like to hit people. Running back, everyone likes offense because you can make plays. Score some touchdowns and have some fun. I played running back at Huron, a little there and in little league too. I’ve played both sides.” 

Senior defensive end Marc Young on how the program has changed: “(We were used to) being the type of program, our football team was laughed at. Now, people are coming to football games and expecting wins. We saw on the middle school board that each class was counting the wins for us because it was such a big deal to them. That instilled that the program meant something to people. That changed us. From just going out there to coming in knowing you have a job to do.”

Young on how this defense is different: “We just have a lot of bigger guys. Every person on our line is over 200 pounds. It’ll give us that drive forward instead of that backward every play.” 

Young on offseason focus: “I went to a bunch of camps over the summer. My main focus was to get a lot better at my pass rush, my first move off the ball and just my start off the ball in general. I need to focus on getting off the ball fast and getting my hands up and ready to pass rush.”

Young on program message:  “The biggest thing I’m trying to instill in them is that we haven’t earned anything. Last year was great. We won some games but we haven’t won anything (as a team). This team didn’t win a single thing yet and were just the same as the 0-9 team our freshman and sophomore years. This season can just as easily go from 8-1, 7-2, 6-3 as a playoff contender, a good team, to 0-9, 1-8, or 2-7. You need effort to win games. It doesn’t matter what you do, you need the effort.” 

Young on what he’s looking forward to: “Winning some football games, honestly. Football’s always a blast. I can’t really look forward to anything specific because I know there’s going to be something I’m not going to expect. Like how we came back against Lincoln, 21 points, which was insane.”

Senior wide reciever Antwan Ficklen on his focus this offseason: “I spent a lot of time with Colin this summer. (Building) that chemistry with Colin and just route running. It was just strictly football.

Ficklen on what Parachek does well, both players broke multiple offensive records last year: “When the pocket collapses, he’ll find me. If the play breaks down and the DB covers the corner or post route that I have, just breaking the route down and running to something else…he’ll find me, open.”

Ficklen on how the offense progressed last season: “It grew a lot. During the regular season, we weren’t fast tempo but we were getting to that point. When playoffs hit it, it was like a whole different level. We got rid of the wristbands and went into a faster tempo offense, our RPO style.”

Ficklen on comfortability in the offense after another year in Jacobs’ system: “It feels much better. Last year it felt good with how Colin’s playstyle fit with mine but this year is already way better. Colin’s thinking process has sped up a lot. The RPO stuff we do, he gets it. He knows how to read the safety, if the backside safety drops or if the MIKE LB is switching over. He got better throughout the offseason.”

Ficklen on what he wants to improve on from last season: “When I get double-teamed, working on my routes. Sometimes I get irritated and frustrated, but I just have to work on breaking the route down to get past the zone defender. I have to work on that a lot. A little bit of man coverage too.”

 

 

Last season: 6-4 (5-2), 3rdin the SEC White, Lost in pre-district to South Lyon

By Seth Kinker skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

Last year, the Dexter Dreadnaughts won their first game since 2013 and made the playoffs for the first time in school history under second year head coach Phil Jacobs.

At a team camp this summer, Jacobs shared an analogy with his team as they look to prove last season wasn’t a fluke.

“‘I want everyone to imagine sitting behind the steering wheel right now’,” Jacobs said he told the team. “There’s the windshield. There’s the rearview mirror. I want us to take one last look at that review mirror because everything we did last year is in the past. That’s been an easy focus for us. We’ll never forgot where we came from. We’ll never forget last year. We’re a better team than we were a year ago, but so is everyone else. A lot of teams in this conference can win the title, and I’d put us in that mix.”

The motto of “1-0” carries over. The meaning behind it being a focus on whatever is in front of you and winning that. That one game. That one repetition.

Jacobs said that with another year in the system down, the offense can begin to make tweaks. He said that the offense was moving the ball with ease at the two team camps this offseason and that work carried over to the first week of practices that began August 12.

“We’ve got a young inexperienced offensive line,” said Jacobs while breaking down the offense. “That’ll be the big question mark for us this year. We’ve got some people capable of doing it. It’s nice to be able to not install basic plays. We can put in wrinkles now, and a wrinkle to a wrinkle.”

A quarterback battle was a main storyline in camp last year. Now, the Dreadnaughts return 6’ 4” junior quarterback Colin Parachek (2,395 passing yards, 26 TD) and senior wide receiver Antwan Ficklen Jr., who both broke multiple team records last year with Jacobs noting there was no shortage of talent at the wide receiver position.

Mason Loudermilk will be tough to replace at running back but Evan Krolewski, the running back on the JV team last year and senior Jordan Watson will look to fill the void.

Defensively, defensive end Mark Young anchors the defensive line with Watson returning at linebacker after missing most of last season due to injury. The starting secondary returns minus one cornerback. In addition to Watson returning, Matt Gector got a lot of good playing time in his absence last year.

Jacobs also mentioned two players, Jasper Howell and Bryce Martin as newcomers who will be on the field this fall for the Dreadnaughts. He said Howell “might be the best athlete on the football team” and noted that although Martin hasn’t played in a minute, he was quick and athletic.

The Dreadnaughts also have to replace Karl Kerska, a do it all specialist for the Dreadnaughts now with the University of Michigan. Jacobs told The Sun Times there is a competition at kicker and punter to replace Kerska.

This junior class was the JV team in Jacobs first year. He said they only won one game but were in every single contest.

“We told those guys then, you stick with it and get in the weight room, a few years from now you’ll write your own story.”

Schedule:

8/30 vs. Chelsea

9/6 at Ypsilanti

9/13 vs. Edsel Ford

9/20 at Jackson

927 vs. Adrian

10/4 vs. Tecumseh

10/11 at Pinckney

10/18 at Lincoln

10/25 vs. Croswell-Lexington

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