Kennedy takes over helm at Brookfield Central
New football coach happy with early returns
Brookfield Central's new football coach Jed Kennedy gave an idea of where he is coming from when he was asked what was the biggest game of the year for the Lancers.
"Marquette," he shot back, never thinking twice about his answer. "There are two great things about this rivalry. First of all, these are two great schools, and they had had good success on the football field."
It didn't matter to Kennedy that the Hilltoppers are heavily favored to win the Greater Metro Conference, considered by many to be one of the toughest conferences in the state.
It will play into the Lancers' favor that they don't meet until the seventh game of the season on Friday, Oct. 3, at Hart Park. That will give the Lancers and their coach even more time to get to know each other under fire.
Last year, the Lancers lost a 35-10 lead to the Hilltoppers in the second half and then rallied to win, 42-38, with 24 seconds left in the game on a long touchdown pass. It was one of the most thrilling and hair-raising football games Lancer fans have seen in awhile.
Kennedy's offense will be a run option, something familiar to Central fans, except the Lancers will be running it from under center.
"Our motto here is when we throw, we throw for first downs, we throw for touchdowns," Kennedy said. "We'll use the run game to set those things up."
Junior quarterback Dominic Labellarte, who is 5 feet 10 inches and 145 pounds, will be joined by slotbacks Malik Turner, 5-6, 200, and Logan Meyer, 5-9, 155, both juniors, 'very good athletes and shifty kids,' according to Kennedy. Senior Matt Patterson, a 6-1, 190 running back, will also join them.
Junior MJ Lucas will lead the wide receivers, and seniors Michael Horner-Ibler and Joey Baker and juniors Joey Koppelman (6-3, 240) and Harry Ritchie (6-3, 290) will anchor the line.
"Last year, they were a little more finesse with their spread option," Kennedy said. "We're more line it up, get in a three-point stance, get your butt in the air and knock the opponent off the football.
"That's trained mentally, not something you just say 'we want to do that.' We're in the infancy stages of wanting to do that."
On defense, senior Mitchell Ahmad, a second-team all-conference selection, will lead the Lancers from his linebacker position.
"He's the smartest kid I ever coached," Kennedy said of the 6-2, 225-pounder. "He gets it. He's a quiet leader."
Seniors Mattias Hoehen (6-4, 220), Elliot Curries (6-2, 210) and George Panos (5-8, 235) and junior Brandon Hughes (6-1, 240) will anchor the defensive line.
Senior Evan Liebetrau and juniors Joe DuBois and Buc Nellen will lead the secondary.
Kennedy has been happy with what he has seen the first two weeks of camp.
"We have some great kids here. Hardworking kids," he said. "They've responded to the things we've brought in. When there is change it's not that one way is better and one way is worse, it's just different. We have done more hitting than they have done in the past."
Nothing has surprised Kennedy in his new position.
"All the reasons I took this job have been validated when I started working with these kids," he said. "They're just unbelievable kids."
When asked what is the toughest obstacle he will face, Kennedy thought a minute.
"The best way to validate things is to have success doing them," he said. "If we go out and struggle offensively or defensively the first couple weeks, we have to preach to those kids we're making the right choice here with the things we are doing.
"I think that's the toughest thing."
Joining Kennedy's coaching staff are coordinators Jim Camerota (defense) and Jacob Ruff (offense).
The offensive coaches are Joel Nellis, Chad Breyman, Jarod Camerota and Chris Freiman.
The defensive coaches are Steve Jacob, Jeff Lueck and Ryan Zaporski.
Dan Patrick is the kicking coach, Ada Kaminsky is the director of football operations and Steve Kracht is the freshman coach.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Late rally lifts Brookfield East past Franklin boys, 64-61, in season opener
- East nips Lancers, 24-20, to get back into GMC race
- Around Town: Sept. 18
- Mystery Photo Contest: Sept. 18
- Brookfield Library Recommendations: Sept. 18
- Young Brookfield Central Lancer spikers rally to beat East girls
- Sports Notes: Sept. 11
- Brookfield Central runners win Rocket Invite
- Football: Resilient East has enough in low-scoring victory
- Sports Wraps: swimming, tennis, golf, soccer, volleyball and cross country