BAY PORT — Just like the Packers, high school football fall camp is in full swing.
The Bay Port Pirates finished second in the FRCC North conference last year, and lost in the state quarterfinals to the eventual state champion Franklin high in the postseason. The Pirates have high aspirations for their 2022 season.
“Go out and win state this year,” said Pirates senior safety AJ Courchaine.
For Pirates head coach Gary Westerman, he’s just happy that for the first time since the pandemic, his team got a full offseason of work in.
“The offseason is critical in our development kids, so they worked very hard in the weight room, we’ve been able to train straight through this year, without breaks as normal, he said. “That’s been huge. On top of it, just getting the kids back into a normal mindset, five days a week in school and such. That’s awesome just to get back to that normalcy.
For the second time in Westerman’s 11 years as head coach of Bay Port, he has a signal caller coming back to start for his second year in a row. All eyes are on senior Cole Bensen.
“I don't care what level of football – you play to win games, you got to have a good signal caller,” said the Pirates head coach. “Having that is huge, but I think just being able to get more repetition because you’re doing less teaching, he knows a lot of that base stuff, has been a huge help.”
This year, the team plans to pass to ball a little bit more, and Bensen has been working with his receivers in the offseason to create a connection.
“It means a lot to me,” said Bensen on his excitement for the upcoming season. “One last ride with my guys, been playing together for awhile and I’m just super excited to go hit the field again and have a repeat of last year, but this time just trying to make it to week 14.”
It’s that leadership that gets his coach excited about going to battle with him behind center. Last year, Bensen passed for 1,397 yards and almost rushed for 1,000 yards – coming up 25 yards short (975).
“First and foremost, he’s just a great human,” Westerman said. “(He) works really hard. He's a great leader for us and has worked really hard to get to this point. He's an awesome leader. He's our leader and we’re just looking forward to taking the field with him.”
Bensen has seen a lot of his teammates step up as leaders this offseason, something he hasn’t seen before with the Pirates. Despite having state title aspirations the whole team has their eyes set on week one.
“We’re just looking to the game ahead of us. “We’re preparing for Middleton August 18 and after that, we’ll go from there. But right now, Middleton is what we’re focused on.”
Bay Port will play at Middleton to open up their 2022 season.