Memorial begins new season with lots of experience

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The Colton Pence era may be over at Memorial, but don’t expect the Tigers to show any sign of slowing down.

Twenty starters will return for Memorial this season after a stellar season that ended with an 8-4 record. 
Pence’s 1700 yards of offense and 17 touchdowns from last season will be tough to replace, but the Tigers seem to have found their guy in junior Caleb Ellspermann.

Ellspermann received significant reps last season replacing Pence after an injury. He threw for 287 yards last year on 43 attempts. 

The good news for Ellspermann and the Tigers is that all of the recipients of those targets last year will be returning. Memorial lost only five seniors last year, and players like Dominic Norman, Xavier Tyler, Leo Collins and Connor Agler will be back again after leading the team in receiving last year. That chemistry can only help Ellspermann, who will have high expectations replacing Pence. 

“It’s easy to pick up where we left off because we have so many players coming back,” Ellspermann said. “We’re able to put in more things [in practice]. Those first couple weeks we were rusty, and now we’re really starting to get the hang of things. We’re putting new things in, and we’re being confident with everything we’re doing.”

While Memorial is far from a finished product, head coach John Hurley admitted that having a veteran roster has its benefits in the preseason. 

“It’s different from last year because last year you were kind of pulling your hair out with so many young guys, and going through all the little things over and over,” said Hurley. “This year, we’ve been able to move a little quicker. There’s a lot of pieces that have to fall into place. Guys will have different roles, a little bit. Kids will have to take a little more leadership on.”

The Tigers will put that experience to the test when they open the season on Aug. 20 against Jasper.

(This story was originally published on August 5, 2021)

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