LEIPSIC — On its way to 11 wins and a regional runner-up finish last season Leipsic’s football team found ways to adjust.
Maybe the most notable adjustment came after leading rusher Cole Williamson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the final regular-season game and Lorenzo Walther emerged as high level threat out of the backfield when he averaged 106 yards rushing and scored six touchdowns in the Vikings’ three playoff games.
Leipsic is hoping for more discoveries like that this year with a young team in what coach Joe Kirkendall says is a transition season.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a year where we were this young,” said Kirkendall, who is in his tenth season at Leipsic.
“We have six seniors, we have 10 juniors. It’s a good junior class. I really, really like our junior class. But we’re going to be young. That’s the transition part. We have some very talented freshmen and they’re going to find their way onto the field right off the bat,” he said.
Even with a young roster Leipsic will have eight returning starters and five players who earned some sort of All-Blanchard Valley Conference honors last season.
Walther was second-team all-conference as a defensive back. Offensive lineman Lorenzo Martinez, wide receiver Tyler Sickmiller and linebacker Adrian Carrillo were on the third team and defensive tackle/running back Gabe Jiminez received honorable mention.
Defensive back/running back Fabian Pena, expected to be one of the leaders of the team after being third-team All-BVC last year, will miss the season because of a foot injury that happened during basketball season.
“We will be incredibly young so that will cause some growing pains. There is a lot of talent but the youth will need to grow up quickly,” Kirkendall said.
Junior Dillan Niese will be the starting quarterback. He alternated with Drew Liffick at that position last year before a broken collarbone kept him out of the second half of the season.
“His strength right now is running the football. He’s a big strong kid,” Kirkendall said.
With Walther returning, that could mean Leipsic’s offense will be run oriented again. Kirkendall says Walther is “bigger, stronger and faster” than he was last season.
Leipsic has three two-way starter and three freshmen projected to be in the two-deep roster.
Lorenzo Martinez will go both ways at defensive end and right guard. Adrian Carrillo will play middle linebacker and center and Walther will be at outside linebacker and running back. Freshman Trent Siefker is projected as a starter at wide receiver and freshmen Estevan Carrillo and Jacob Scheckelhoff are backups at halfback and strong safety.