There’s a new face under center for the Tremont football team after incumbent starting quarterback Max Garey was ruled out for “a while” with a knee injury according to head coach Lou Wicks.
Logan Baxter gets the starting nod this week when Tremont travels to LeRoy at 7 p.m. in a battle of Heart of Illinois Conference small-division teams. Baxter replaced Garey in the first quarter of last week’s game at Dee-Mack.
Wicks isn’t changing his offense for his new QB, but rather expanding on what Baxter did in the offseason and in early practices to prepare him for Friday’s game against LeRoy, which went to the IHSA Class 1A state semifinals last season.
“We really haven’t changed much,” Wicks said. “We’re just making sure he’s getting reps and expanding on what we’ve had him prepared to do as a backup, which was kind of limited after the first week. We’re continuing to build his confidence and get going in that direction.”
Last week Tremont gave up four sacks in a 37-0 loss. LeRoy, anchored by a strong defensive line, is likely to put more heat on Baxter and the Turks. First Team All-State defensive end Alex LaMont will patrol the line of scrimmage for LeRoy, opposite of three-year starting defensive end Brandon Bagnell.
Wicks wants his team to be aware of where LaMont, who also plays offensive line, is on the field and account for his presence.
LeRoy’s offense is expected to control the ball and Wicks expects to run fewer than the 47 offensive plays the Turks ran last week. Less plays will require more precision from the Turk offense.
“We have to get better on defense and find a little bit more consistency in our offense,” Wicks said. “We’re not going to get the ball as many times as we did last week and we can’t squander away opportunities on possessions.”
The Turks are getting used to not having Garey under center after the initial shell-shocked response last Friday. In Garey’s absence, Wicks is looking for other players — specifically role players — to step up and be leaders.
Despite Garey’s injury, Tremont still possesses size and athleticism that has LeRoy head coach B.J. Zeleznik concerned for Friday’s matchup.
“Tremont is an impressive looking team athletically,” Zeleznik said.
Zeleznik said the size and athleticism of the Turks will cause problems for the Panthers.
The Turks return home next week against Eureka after a road trip that saw them take on two teams, which each made it at least to the quarterfinals of last year’s playoffs.
Zeleznik said Tremont’s Week 1 loss against an “outstanding Dee-Mack team” is not an indicator of how good Tremont is.
“We always have tough, hard-fought games with Tremont and we expect another one on Friday,” Zeleznik said.
Even after the opening-night loss, Wicks has seen an upward trajectory for his team.
“We need to continue to get better and understand that it’s a nine-game season and we’re going to continue to work at it and right now we’re headed in the right direction,” Wicks said.