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Brookfield East faces questions, but answers close by

Spartans looking to compete for grid playoff spot

Senior Connor Allen will handle all the kicking chores (place-kicking, punting and kick-offs) and will be a big part of this season’s squad.

Senior Connor Allen will handle all the kicking chores (place-kicking, punting and kick-offs) and will be a big part of this season’s squad. Photo By Dave Haberkorn

Aug. 19, 2014

It has been an interesting few weeks for the Brookfield East football team.

A point guard from the basketball team came out and has veteran coach Tom Swittel excited.

No one knows when all-conference center PJ LeClaire, will play this season, or even if he'll play.

There will be a Swittel running the offense — starting quarterback TC Swittel, the coach's son.

And the Spartans most influential player is a kicker.

Yes, an interesting few weeks indeed.

Let's start with the first point, East point guard Corey Smith, an outstanding athlete, surprised Swittel and came out for football.

"We are in a great situation," Swittel said when asked about his backfield. "Corey Smith came out for football and I didn't expect him to. He looks good."

What that allows Swittel to do is play sophomore Sam Santiago-Lloyd (5-feet, 10 inches, 220) on defense more.

"Sam will get plenty of carries, but he is going to start for us on defense," Swittel said. "He may be our best defensive player. Right now he's a defensive end, but we also play him at linebacker, we play him all over the place. The fact that Corey's there allows us to play Sam a lot more on defense."

The third running back is senior Cody White (5-8, 185), who will play behind both.

Will he or won't he

LeClaire, an outstanding talent, making first-team all-conference center as a sophomore, but now hampered by a knee injury, leaves the middle of the offensive line in question.

"We don't know whether he is going to play or not," Swittel said.

Mike Caliendo, a 6-4, 265 junior, will play right tackle. Junior Jack Leonovich, 6-2, 230, will start at right guard, giving East a powerful right side of the line.

"Caliendo will play all over for us," Swittel said. "He might even play some center in PJ's absence. Senior Will Wiemero (6-2, 255) played a couple games last year and he will be in the mix. Dominic Cartier (6-5, 215) started at tackle a couple games."

Swittel is also counting on junior Drew Rakers (6-3, 235) and senior Mike Gitzlaff.

"We have a little bit of depth," he said. "The kid who looks really, really good is Rakers. Mike Gitzlaff can also play."

Rakers should start at center, Gitzlaff at left guard and Wiermero at left tackle to start the season. Junior Oliver Pulsifer (6-0, 225), younger brother of graduated all-star Noah, will also be in the mix.

"Cartier will get a lot of playing time on defense," Swittel said "And Leonovich will start on defense at defensive end."

Receiving corps

East isn't deep at wide receiver behind seniors Kyle Martin (6-0, 175) and Andy Witz (5-11, 190).

"We lack depth, but we have two really solid outside guys," Swittel said. "Kyle Martin has looked really good — like, wow. He'll team with Andy Wirtz. Behind them are juniors Jake Damico and Alex Plavsic, who will both play JV also."

The slot players will be seniors Vinh Nguyen-Van and Chad Kluender, and the fullback/tight end types are juniors Jake Roy (6-1, 210) and Bob Wellman (6-5, 230), who both also play defense.

From sophomores through seniors East has 57 kids out.

"It's not total numbers, as much as how the positions fall," Swittel said. "At offensive line, for example. We would be pretty solid if we could play everyone solid full-time. But we don't have that luxury."

A lot of the same names will show up on defense.

Cartier, Leonovich, Santiago-Lloyd, senior Jeff Bickel (6-2, 225), junior Collen Rhoten (5-11, 220) and senior Qwavon Hickman (6-1, 265) will play in the front line.

Seniors Micah Childs (5-10, 220) and Drew Hepperla (5-10, 195) and Roy will handle most of the linebacking duties.

The defensive backfield will come from seniors Christian Halfhide, Carsten Balke, Mitch Mikulsky and juniors Will Schmidt and Drew Olson, and senior Adam Van Rens will lead the safeties.

Kicking star

Senior Connor Allen was first-team all-conference as a place-kicker as a sophomore and second-team punter. He reversed those honors last year as a junior, earning first-team as a punter and second-team as a kicker.

He has attended several kicking camps over the summer and is considered one of the top kickers in the country.

"He is so valuable to us as a kicker," Swittel said. "I believe when he kicks off or punts we will always win the battle of field position as the game continues."

Allen also will play some quarterback, but TC Swittel, a 5-10, 160 junior, will handle the lion's share of the quarterbacking duties.

The soft-spoken TC is a cerebral player who will lead a complicated offense. The Spartans offense should be in good hands with the talented younger Swittel.

Coaching staff

Swittel's coaching staff is led by Ben Farley (defensive coordinator) and Ben Chossek (offensive coordinator). Marc Johannes, Ben Veit, Brendan Gonring, Jon Lehman, Joe Deschane and Cam Gonring round out the assistant coaching lineup.

Joe Wirtz and Ingrid Swittel are the directors of football operations.

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