Offensive weapons abound for the 2016 Whitnall football team, including one who will operate from a different position this season.
Junior Andrew Mallmann (5 foot-10 inches, 195 pounds), who as the lead running back rushed for 1,142 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, is being switched to quarterback by new head coach John Quinlan.
"He played a little (at quarterback) early in his football career," Quinlan said. "He has been the best we've had (in training camp) at throwing the ball and handling our offense. He will be a dual-threat quarterback, because he can throw the ball well as well as run it."
Moving Mallmann to quarterback opens the backfield to other runners such as senior Marcus Arteaga (5-10, 162), who was Mallmann's backup last season; junior Stephan Flores (5-9, 142) and junior Jacob Flores (5-9, 145).
"We have three or four guys who can handle the ball, so we will be less one-dimensional at running back," Quinlan said.
Weapons at receiver
Mallmann's targets when passing include the Flores brothers, who will also be used at wing; junior Dan Alexopoulos (6-4, 185), senior Dillon Peters (6-2, 192), junior Adam Pelkofer (6-0, 151) and senior Ryan Bigalke (6-0, 160). Playing tight end will be junior Corey Prom (6-0, 225) and senior AJ Arnold (6-1, 185).
"We have quite a few different weapons, and I am happy with our team speed," the coach continued. "We have five different guys who scored in our scrimmage."
The offensive line is spearheaded by junior Cole Greco (6-2, 283), junior Lucas Merritt (6-3, 260) and junior Dan Wolff (6-3, 252).
Keying the defensive line are senior Niko Perez (6-1, 225), junior Andrew Couture (6-7, 270), senior Joe Bodoh (6-0, 207) senior Josh Favors (6-4, 310) and junior Devin Breitenstein (6-3, 215). Linebackers include Peters, senior Brady Burckhardt (5-11, 174) and junior Jacob Klatkewicz (5-9, 187).
Manning the defensive backfield are senior Mitch Knapp (5-11, 145), Bigalke and Pelkofer. Knapp tallied 35 solo tackles and six interceptions last season.
"We are solid up front defensively with some big guys," Quinlan said, "and we have some speed rushers in Perez and Breitenstein."
Quinlan sees a balanced race in the Woodland Conference East Division, with defending champion Greenfield the favorite because of a large number of returning skill players.
"After that, the two through five spots will all be strong, with anybody capable of beating anyone else," he said.
Central first foe
Whitnall opens the season against West Allis Central at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at West Allis Hale. The two teams met last season with Whitnall prevailing, 27-20, on a late interception by Knapp.
The Falcons begin the Woodland campaign at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, at Brown Deer.
Player to watch: Andrew Mallmann, who compiled over 1,110 yards at running back last season and is being switched to quarterback. Coach John Quinlan is looking for more weapons.
Keep an eye on: the Falcons' offense will utilize a different tempo, moving away from the no-huddle which was used extensively last season and slowing down the pace a bit.
We say: Whitnall has enough offense behind Mallmann and deep running and receiving corps. If the defense holds up, the Falcons should contend for the Woodland East title and WIAA playoffs.
First team: Cole Greco (OL), Andrew Mallmann (RB), Nikolai Perez (DE), Mitchell Knapp (SB)
Honorable mention: Dillon Peters (IL), Ryan Bigalke (SB)
First-team losses: Austin Brault (WR), Nic Smith (TE), Ashton Peplinski (OL), Kyle Radavich (QB), Francisco Perez (K), Freddrick Stewart (IL), Kaiser Kastner (OL), Nick Clarizio (SB)
Coach: John Quinlan
Outcome: Lost in Level 2 to Kewaskum, 35-12
Last year (home in bold)
West Allis Central W 27-20
Waukesha North L 48-28
South Milwaukee W 31-10
Brown Deer W 35-8
Cudahy W 35-7
Shorewood/Messmer W 30-28
Greenfield L 35-28
Greendale L 48-17
New Berlin Eisenhower L 31-21
Saint Francis W 21-19
Kewaskum L 35-12
Aug. 19 West Allis Central
Aug. 26 Waukesha North
Sept. 2 Brown Deer
Sept. 9 Cudahy
Sept. 16 Shorewood/Messmer
Sept. 23 Greenfield
Sept. 30 South Milwaukee
Oct. 7 Woodland Crossover
Oct. 14 Woodland Crossover