FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Freeport Pretzels suffered a ‘Major’ loss literally in personnel to graduation last year in quarterback Major Dedmond. But they could offset that with a number of athletic players ready to step in this season.
Junior Kyree Shirley has been named Dedmond’s replacement at quarterback. Shirley knows he has big shoes to fill. Dedmond earned first team all-conference, and he is the only quarterback to lead the NIC-10 in rushing.
“Coach Dedmond says nothing is given to anybody,” says Shirley. “Everyone has to earn their spot on the team. I just feel like I’ve done enough work to earn the job. It’s a lot of hype going into it, but I feel like I’ll just be alright.”
“I’ve had a chance to know him because I coached him back in middle school and I know what he brings to the table,” said Dedmond. “He has a strong arm, athletic. Major was outstanding and left his footprints and did so many things, had so many accolades and Kyrie is in that same boat. He’s in that same mode with him.”
Freeport isn’t going to let Shirley be a one-man show though. They have other weapons such as senior running backs Matthew Chavers and Deontae Collier to help elevate their game.
“We can score at any time,” said Dedmond. “We just have that ability to break a play anytime. Once we get to rollin’, it’s hard to stop us I think.”
Defensively the Pretzels have seniors Isaiah Batteast and Keondre Jackson leading the way. Jackson was first team all-conference in the secondary last season.
“Aggressive and fast. We can stop anything,” says Jackson.
Coach Dedmond can see his guys are already anxious for those Friday night lights.
“These kids are anxious to play and being there the second year in the system that we’re running, they feel comfortable. They know it. Even right now, we’re going through the motions of kind of at that bored stage because we want to get ready to play on Friday nights.”
Dedmond’s dedication and chemistry with the team make it easy to see why his players are more than happy to have him back.
“He’s just the best person to have for this position,” said Jackson. “He’s not soft. If we got soft coaches then we’re going to have a soft team. He stays on you and he makes sure he disciplines you for everything you do.”