Kroner's football tour: Tuscola

TUSCOLA — On a team of football players, Tuscola’s Austin Martin is the epitome of a team player.

“He’s our most versatile player,” Tuscola coach Rick Reinhart said. “He can play running back, receiver, quarterback or tight end.”

That’s just on offense. The senior is also a defensive lineman as well as a kicker.

“He’s never coming off the field,” Reinhart said. “He’s got to get a comfortable seat on the bus because that’s it.”

Martin is one of six seniors on the Warriors’ 42-player roster.

“Being a young team, we’re a little anxious,” Reinhart said. “The attitude has been tremendous, and this year’s team gets along well. Practice has been fun.

“As far as practice goes, we’ve gotten more done and had more fun than in two years.”

Senior Austin Beniach was a two-way starter a year ago and again will be a fixture on the offensive line and as a linebacker. He was second on the team in tackles in 2012.

“He had a great year last year, and he’s bigger and stronger,” Reinhart said. “We’ve been known for good linebackers, and he’s on track to be outstanding.”

Two other seniors who’ve worked their way into primary roles are receivers Kyle Stenger and Tristan Williams. Linemen Dakota Hale and Ashton Hastings are the other seniors.

It’s a class, Reinhart said, “that has to come up big.”

Sophomore Nick Bates — who started at quarterback the final half of his freshman year — will line up behind an offensive line that will feature at least four juniors.

Offseason workouts were good, Reinhart said, because of a desire to get back to the playoffs. The Tuscola streak ended last year at 18 years in a row.

“We stepped up our offseason program and, no question, that (playoff absence) was on our mind every day,” Reinhart said.

Returning to the postseason won’t be easy, Reinhart said.

“We probably have the toughest schedule we’ve played since 2009,” he said. “We’re a young team, with not a lot of depth. We have to be in the best shape and grow up in a hurry.”

Tuscola opens at home Friday against Sullivan/Okaw Valley.

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