In 2016, it was Zach Harrison whose lone season with the Greendale football team came as a senior after he had been beset by injury and previously concentrated on basketball. In 2015, baseball standout Bohan Lee decided to give football a try as a senior. Both were All-Suburban wide receivers in their lone year with the program.
Greendale may have another secret weapon once again, but there’s a twist. This time, he’s a junior.
Paul Toetz, a baseball player already committed to play for Indiana University, will play football for the first time after briefly considering it freshman year and focusing on the diamond last year.
“He’s legit as an athlete,” Greendale coach Rob Stoltz said. “Obviously, he’s a little bit behind not playing football the past couple years, but he’s a dynamic player on offense and defense, in the backfield or as a receiver. We just need to get him up to speed pretty quick.”
The junior class in general is a boon for the Panthers, who will head into the 2017 season looking for a 13th consecutive playoff berth in a Woodland West that got an offseason facelift. Wisconsin Little Ten powerhouse Wisconsin Lutheran is new to the mix, and West Allis Central joins from the Greater Metro after narrowly missing a playoff berth in that league last year.
“We have a lot of pieces, but we need to develop our whole roster,” Stoltz said. “You better have kids prepared when they’re called upon to make plays, whether because of injury or flow of the game.”
It’s not as if the Panthers are lacking in top seniors, starting with quarterback/safety Mitchell Gnadt, who battled inconsistency and injury at times last year but has shown the ability to put up some monster numbers. Defensive end Jaelen Johnson might be the team’s best overall football player, and he joined senior outside linebacker Ray Rosalez on first-team All Conference last year.
Offensive lineman Josh Dymond returns, anchoring the line with fellow junior Josh Dooley. The Class of 2019 will play key roles around the field, including receiver/defensive back JR Muth, talented linebacker Masaeo Wooden and Sean Sanchez, fresh off a strong sophomore season with the Greendale baseball team and an option at quarterback as he begins his junior year.
“The junior class ran the table as freshmen,” Stoltz said. “We don’t run our offense at the youth levels, so to come in as freshmen and run the table … that doesn’t happen very often at Greendale.”
Kyle Weinkauf, an honorable mention pick at defensive back last year, returns with the opportunity to see a lot of carries in the backfield, as well. Noah Radka and Jazil Baig are also in the mix for carries, part of perhaps the deepest corps of running backs Stoltz has had.
Defensive end Ricky Rosales, an honorable-mention All Conference pick last year, was lost for the season when he tore his ACL in June.
The Panthers open the season Thursday night against Lake Geneva Badger, a squad that has made Level 4 of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs each of the past two seasons.