By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Taking over the Elkhart Memorial High School football program without a lot of time to prepare for the 2012 campaign made it a tough season for coach Bill Roggeman and the Crimson Chargers.
Now with a year of experience under his belt things are looking a little different for Roggeman and the 2013 season.
“We are much more settled,” the coach said. “Both the team and the coaching staff are more comfortable. The first summer was crazy. This year summer workouts were more beneficial. We had a good group of 35 to 40 kids over the summer and we are miles ahead of where we were last year at this point.”
Memorial finished 1-9 a year ago. A sign that progress was being made were the two games with crosstown rival Elkhart Central. Central won the season opener by a 51-3 count. When the two teams played in the sectional Memorial has closed to a 17-13 score.
The two squads opened the current campaign on Friday with Central posting a 13-0 win at Rice Field.
The Chargers returned five starters on offense and a defensive unit that is basically intact.
“We have five starters back on offense, but we have a new offensive scheme,” the coach said.
“We didn’t score a lot of points last season. Our focus is putting points on the board this season. The defense spent a lot of time on the field a year ago and we have to let them get some rest.”
Senior Blake Kramer (6-2, 184) is a returning starter at quarterback, but he was pushed in camp by junior Trevor Trowbridge (6-0 (215). Trowbridge completed six of nine passes in the opener and Kramer two of three.
“Blake is extremely athletic and has the ability to pull a play out of the fire. He is a threat to run,” Roggeman said. “Trowbridge is very intelligent and has really taken to the new offense. He throws a nice pass.”
The leader at running back is senior Kane Rickey (5-9, 195) with junior Josh Cameron (5-11, 175) and classmate Jaylin Rhodes (5-10, 170) the top backups. Top candidates at fullback are senior TieShawn Johnson and junior Kaleb Summers (5-10, 202).
The receivers are led by senior Nathan Troutman (5-11, 198) and classmate Jared Peak (5-11 158).
“Nathan runs good routes and has speed,” Roggeman said.
Others who could see time at receiver are junior Chris Kale (6-1, 160) and sophomore David Doyle (5-7, 155).
“Kale is a transfer from Plainfield,” Roggeman said. “He has stepped in and can help us. Doyle is a speedster off the track team.”
Three players — senior Myles Rosenberg (6-2, 212); junior Eric Holt (5-11, 178) and junior Izayah Newsom (6-2, 212) — are the leaders at tight end.
The offensive line has three starters back in senior Matt Wenning (5-9, 255); senior Chandler Burket (5-8, 175); and Bryce Banghart (6-2, 224).
On defense, Newsom, Banghart and 6-0 (180) junior Matt Lyon are the leaders on the line. Johnson, Summers and Rosenberg are all returning starters at linebacker.
“Johnson was our leading tackler,” the coach said.
Troutman, Peak, Kale and sophomore Geno Peek (5-9, 133) are the leaders at cornerback. Kale, Rickey, Cameron and junior Brock Rhoda (5-7, 140) are the top safeties.
“The strengths of the defense should be our ability to play physical and aggressive football,” Roggeman said.