LSJ preview: Seniors hoping to put wins on the board for North Muskegon

Last month, the Local Sports Journal published a 24-page high school football preview section. Here is the preview story on the North Muskegon Norsemen. If you would like to purchase a copy of the football section, send an email to sports@localsportsjournal.com
By Shawn Liverance
Local Sports Journal
There is only one way to go for the North Muskegon football team this season and that is up.
The Norsemen suffered a winless season last year, and that didn’t sit too well with Adrian Anderson and Chase Cooke.

Seniors Adrian Anderson, left, and Chase Cooke will attempt to get the Norsemen back on track this season. Photo by Ron Rop.

The two seniors come in adamant that last season will not be repeated.
“We are coming into this season with a big chip on our shoulders,” Cooke said. “We have lots to prove this season. We want to make North Muskegon proud of us and bring back North Muskegon football.”
Anderson echoed those same sentiments.
“We can’t have what happened last year happen again,” Anderson said. “We fully expect to be in every game this year and win those games.”
Changing the attitude this season is a common theme running throughout the North Muskegon program, and that is never more evident than the sacrifice Cooke has made.
The backup quarterback last season, Cooke will move to tight end so Anderson can play quarterback.
“At first, I was a little disappointed, but I want to do anything I can to help us win games this year,” Cooke said.
Anderson (6-foot, 200) will take over at quarterback after playing fullback a year ago.
“It is a big move, but playing quarterback is something I always wanted to play,” Anderson said. “I think I picked it up pretty quick. It has come naturally to me and Coach (Phil) Friesner had really helped in the offseason.”
First-year coach Mike Belmonte’s philosophy is a simple one.
“We need to put our best athletes in positions that will make us more successful,” Belmonte said. “We feel the best chance for us to win games is moving Adrian to quarterback.
“Adrian is great athlete and has really picked up the position change well. But, I can’t say it enough how Chase handled the change. He handled it with so much class.”
Cooke (5-foot-11, 175), who will also play cornerback on defense, has had to adjust to his new tight end position in preseason workouts.
“It is a position I am not used to, but I think I picked things up pretty easy,” Cooke said. “I think it will be fun to play a new position this year.”
Anderson and Cooke will be key components to North Muskegon’s offense, according to Belmonte.
“Those two will be key for our offense this year,” Belmonte said. “We are going to run multiple formations and be a series-based type of offense.”
Senior Nick Duplissis (5-foot-8, 170) returns after suffering an injury last year and will be counted on to provide rushing yards from his fullback position.
The offensive line, which will be counted on to open holes for NM’s running game and to also protect Anderson in the pocket, will be anchored by guards Christian Brower (6-foot-1, 225) a senior, and junior Aidan Rhyndress (6-foot, 220) and junior center Justin Fairfield (6-foot, 240).
“I think we have some skill on offense,” said Belmonte, who will be assisted by Phil Friesner, Al Karaba and Scott Wynsma. “We have some experience up front, but we need to avoid injuries as we don’t have much depth.”
Defensively, Belmonte will employ a 5-2 scheme and thinks the defensive line and secondary will be NM’s strengths.
Joining Cooke and Anderson in the secondary will be senior Jack Gautraud (5-foot-9, 160) and Duplissis.
Linebackers Holden Vanderweele (5-foot-10, 205) a junior and sophomore Logan Waller (6-foot, 175) could be the key for NM’s defense.
“Those two (Vanderweele and Waller) have little varsity experience, and they will need to step up for us to be successful on defense,” Belmonte said.
Changing a losing culture is what Belmonte is striving for this season.
“We want to return the North Muskegon football tradition to where it was,” said Belmonte, who has spent 22 years as an assistant coach at several local schools. “We are only focused on our first game right now and improving week to week. We are emphasizing senior leadership, which we have this year.
They all have a hunger, which is good to see.”
That senior leadership is led by Anderson and Cooke and they both want to leave their mark on the North Muskegon program.
Cooke, who is the last of five brothers to play football for North Muskegon, said he wants to go out a winner.
“I hear it from my brothers all the time on much they miss football,” Cooke said. “I want to enjoy my senior season, but also want to go out a winner.”
Anderson, who also is a standout baseball player for the Norsemen, can’t wait for the season to begin.
“There is nothing like running out on the field on a Friday night,” Anderson said. “I think the guys have
bought into what we want to accomplish this season. We don’t want to go through what we did last year, and we expect to win this year.”

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