Football part of the construction trend at Lutheran North
By George Pohly
The construction project at Lutheran North isn’t limited to the new classrooms going up on the Macomb Township school’s campus.
A revitalized football program continues to build in its second year under coach Garrett Wenzelburger, who in 2018 guided the Mustangs to seven victories, their most in nearly a decade, and the playoffs.
Quarterback Angelo Basilisco, a Macomb County all-star last year, returns as part of a significant senior class.
“Excited,” Wenzelburger said when asked how it felt to take the wraps off camp. “Based on last year’s success and the fact that, even though we don’t have a huge senior class, we have a lot of great pieces coming back.”
Wenzelburger’s staff is back intact, another development that he believes will help.
“I think that’s under-valued sometimes,” he said. “The kids get to hear the same terminology, the same voices for the second year in a row. That’s a big thing.”
Wenzelburger is a Lutheran North teacher. He’s in a more comfortable place as a second-year coach.
“It’s like teaching,” he said. “The first year of teaching, you’re figuring out what’s going on. For year two, I have a better understanding of what to expect, the basic game day stuff, the practice schedules and all of the other things going on. I have a little more peace of mind.”
Lutheran North scored 35 or more points four times last season. The Mustangs won three of those games. They also showed they could win in tighter defensive conditions, prevailing 13-7 over Ann Arbor Richard in a Catholic League crossover game.
Lutheran North went 7-3, its most victories since the 2010 team won eight times.
Basilisco is the trigger man for the offense.
“For him, it’s another year of understanding the terminology,” Wenzelburger said. “We’re going to be giving him some opportunities at the line of scrimmage to make some reads. He had a good summer. He was in the weight room and went to different camps.”
Lutheran North will sprinkle sophomores into a nucleus of juniors and seniors.
Meshing the new players with the veterans is a construction priority in the first week of practice, Wenzelburger said.
“By the end of the week I want to see the team come together in a short period of time,” he said. “I want to see how the seniors start leading. I want to see how well we’re picking up things we ran last year. I have a vision of how much we can put in offensively, but it’ll be dictated by how quickly (the sophomores) can pick up what the other guys have a grip on.”
The 10th-graders, Wenzelburger said, put in an impressive amount of work in the offseason. Now it’s time to see how far they’ve come.
“Can they handle the speed of the game? Can they start to pick up the intricacies of the offense?” Wenzelburger said. “They ran a shell of the varsity stuff at the JV level. A lot of times on JV you’re blocking against the same (defensive) front the entire game. At the varsity level, you’ve got guys moving around on the line of scrimmage. You get a three-, four-, five-man front thrown at you. Guys are moving around on the line of scrimmage. That’s where it gets difficult.”
Lutheran North plays the same first six opponents it did last year when the Mustangs started 5-1.
In the final third of the season, their opponents include Cranbrook and Manistee, who replace Shrine and North Farmington.
The Mustangs went 2-1 in Catholic League Intersectional 1 games last year.
Allen Park Cabrini, Riverview Richard and University Liggett again join the Mustangs in the division.
“It doesn’t matter what division you’re in, it’s a battle in the Catholic League,” Wenzelburger said. “The rivalries run deep.”
A work crew put mulch around new landscaping plants while the Mustangs held their first practice Monday, a sign that parts of the ambitious remodeling plan at Lutheran North were near completion.
That, Wenzelburger said, was a welcome sight for the football players and others who’ve had to contend with disruptions due to construction.
“We’re going to be excited to not have our lives messed with all the time,” Wenzelburger said. “But the other thing is, it looks really cool. It puts the school in a place where it should be. This is a big school in a nice area. I think now the building is catching up with that.”