Herscher football

Herscher football coach Dan Wetzel, left, instructs players during practice earlier this month.

Mason Schweizer

Mason Schweizer

2021 Outlook

Head Coach: Dan Wetzel (25th season)

Career Record: 114-110, 96-98 at Herscher

Conference: Illinois Central Eight

Last Playoff: Class 3A Semifinals, 2018

Best Playoff: Class 3A State Runner-Up, 1998

2020-21 Record: 2-3

Fall 2021 Schedule

8/28 2 p.m. Dunbar

9/3 7 p.m. @Rochelle

9/10 7 p.m. @Streator

9/17 7 p.m. Coal City

9/24 7 p.m. Wilmington

10/1 7 p.m. @Lisle

10/8 7 p.m. Manteno

10/15 7 p.m. @Herscher

10/22 7 p.m. Reed-Custer

Entering his 25th and final season as a head football coach, Herscher coach and recent Illinois High School Football Association Hall-of-Famer Dan Wetzel has a couple reasons to have a little extra pep in his step, but for Wetzel, the excitement this fall is something that comes with the prospect of every new season.

“Every time it becomes a new season you get rejuvenated and excited about it...,” Wetzel said. “With the season last spring, we’re turning around quickly and it’s different.

“It’s been a good thing because the kids have retained a lot more than in a normal season, but you have to avoid that burnout.”

Avoiding burnout could be a tricky task for Wetzel and the Tigers, as a thin roster will require nearly an entire lineup of two-way players.

“We’re gonna have eight or nine two-way players and that will be our challenge,” Wetzel said. “We’ve gotta be smart as coaches how we handle game situations and understand on special teams.

“We’ve gotta structure things a little differently, but it’ll be ironman football and hopefully in the fourth quarter we’ll have something in the tank.”

Kody Lunsford returns for his third year at running back and he’ll be running behind an offensive line that returns starters Jackson Fritz, JJ Burmeister, Lance Johnson and Garrett Wolfenberger, as well as three-year starting tight end Travis Jones, with Colton Ketcherside joining them up front.

“We like our front five; they’re not overly big but they have really good speed and athleticism,” Wetzel said. “As the line goes so does the offense and everyone knows that.”

The line will be creating running lanes for Lunsford and pass blocking for junior quarterback Brock Wenzelman, who has a trusty target in Clay Schultz on one side and Rylan Henderschott opposite of him, with Jones and Lunsford as more-than-capable safety valves, all looking to gobble up targets left with the graduation of Daily Journal All-Area receiver and running back Camden Berns.

Many of those players, particularly Lunsford and Jones, will be called upon to step up defensively, where linebacker Joe Holohan returns to yet again anchor the unit.

“Joe is a great leader and has a lot of great qualities; he has wisdom beyond his years and some kis lead if you ask but joes a natural leader” Wetzel said. “He knows how to motivate his peers and keep them in line and he has a knack for it.”

Holohan knows the leadership from him and the other seniors will be leaned on even more with so many players expected to step up on both sides of the ball.

“We push them,” Holohan said of his younger teammates. “We don’t let them take a break, that’s pretty much what it comes down to.”

Holohan also said the Tigers want to make Wetzel’s last season his best, but the veteran coach is just hoping to enjoy the final ride.

“That’s nice if that’s how they feel but I try and keep myself out of it in that respect,” Wetzel said. “I know I’m done after this so I’m definitely gonna put my best foot forward and enjoy each day with the kids on the field.

“That’s what I enjoy most, is being with the kids, so I’m hoping this season slows down a bit.”

Quick Hits

Kody Lunsford, RB/CB

Favorite junk food: Ice cream

Go-to pregame song: “Run This Town,” by Jay-Z

Teammate with the most swag: Brock Wenzelman

College football or the NFL: College football

First purchase with lottery winnings: Fancy car

Mason Schweizer is an award-winning reporter who has been with the Daily Journal since 2017 and sports editor since 2019. Save for time at the University of Illinois and Wayne State College, Mason is a lifelong area resident.