Saugatuck, Fennville football teams enter season with high hopes
By Jason Wesseldyk
Saugatuck’s opponents are probably breathing a sigh of relief this season.
Why? Because the Dunn boys are finally done.
With the graduation of Brad Dunn last spring, this will be the first time in six seasons at least one of the Dunn brothers hasn’t been the focal point of the Saugatuck offense. (Blake Dunn starred for the Indians from 2013 to 2016, while Brad Dunn did the same from 2016 to 2018.)
Saugatuck won’t be completely Dunn-less, though, as Bill Dunn returns to the sidelines for his 17th season as head coach. He enters the season tied with Jack Lampen for the most all-time wins in program history with 111.
And even though he won’t have any of his sons to lead the offensive charge, Bill Dunn maintains a high level of expectation for his team.
“We expect to be competitive and challenge for the divisional title,” said Bill Dunn, who has guided the Indians to eight divisional league championships, nine playoff appearances, two district titles, two regional titles and two state finalist appearances in 2010 and 2017. “In order for us to do that, we have to be healthy and be competitive each and every week. We have to take it one game at a time.”
Six of the 16 players on the Saugatuck roster were part of last season’s 9-2 squad that made it to a district title game. That group includes the senior quartet of Donnie Drew (running back/linebacker), Aedan Kelley (offensive line/defensive line), Luke Lencioni (offensive line/defensive line) and Griffin Milovanski (punter/kicker and defensive back).
Juniors Tommy Beckman (tight end/defensive end) and Knole Ihle (offensive line/defensive line) are also back.
Newcomers who are expected to make a big impact this season include junior Keiran Boerema (quarterback/defensive back), junior Nick Stanberry (fullback/middle linebacker) sophomore Benny Diaz (running back/defensive back) and sophomore Ben Drew (running back/linebacker).
And while Bill Dunn fully believes in the potential of his team, he also knows that, in order to achieve their goals, the Indians will have to be fully focused each time they step onto the field. That’s especially true when it comes to conference play.
“I think our conference is going to be competitive week to week,” he said. “Each team will have a chance to win each week, so we need to be prepared.”
Marty Resseguie, Fischer Avery, Jordan Neely, Jonnta Watson, Steven Neely and Cayden Schreckengust round out the roster for Saugatuck and are expected to make key contributions.
Some people see the glass as half full. Others see it as half empty.
You can count first-year Fennville coach Shad Fish among the individuals in that first group.
A prime example of that optimistic outlook on things can be seen in the way Fish views the fact that he’s inheriting a team that lost a boatload of talent to graduation.
“Losing 14 seniors from last year’s team presents an opportunity for a lot of guys who did not get a lot of playing time last year to step up and show what they can do,” Fish said.
Fish is the third head coach in Fennville in the past three years, taking over for Trevor Lucas following his one-year stint.
During that one season, Lucas led the Blackhawks to a 7-3 record and included a playoff appearance. Many of the players on this year’s roster saw playing time at the varsity level last season.
“Due to not having a JV team last season, nearly all of the 10th through 12th graders were on varsity in 2018,” Fish said. “Many of them contributed to one degree or another.”
Returning seniors include Tyger Rastall, Jaguar Rastall, Jordan Pena, Shawn Olund, Eric Hernandez, Andrew Oiston, Julio Vallalobos and Josh Parcher.
Juniors Paul Anaya, Conner Barnes, Cruz Florez and Uzi Delgado also return, as do sophomores Dylan Schut and Tyler Schut.
Newcomers who could make an impact include senior David Salinas, sophomores Tony Fish, Corey Callijas, John Gardea and Michael Adams as well as freshmen Ben Peterson, Saul Carrizales and Isaiah Strickfaden.
“I think we have an excellent group of young men who have terrific team chemistry and have been working hard at getting better every practice,” Shad Fish said. “As a coach coming into a new situation, I could not ask for more than that.”
Although this is Shad Fish’s first year at the helm in Fennville, he is no stranger to coaching football at the high school level.
This will be his 24th season coaching at the prep level, including seven years total as a head coach between Mayville and Gladwin. He was also the defensive coordinator at Frankenmuth for eight years.
“Growing up in Battle Creek, graduating from Lakeview High School; and having many family and friends still residing in the area, I am very excited to be back in West Michigan at Fennville,” Shad Fish said.