FREMONT – If there was only constant throughout the 2018 Fremont Ross football season, it was the Little Giants’ defense giving its team a chance to win.
So it should come as no surprise that the defensive side of the ball would receive top billing from the Three Rivers Athletic Conference coaches in the selection of the postseason All-TRAC honors.
Five Little Giants earned first team all-TRAC status, three from the defensive side of the ball and two from special teams.
Senior linebackers Garrett Schneider and Caleb Wood and junior defensive lineman Dontrez Brown were recognized for leading the defense while punter Noah Hotz and return specialist Andrew Born earned a place for their impact on special teams.
Schneider led the Little Giants with 108 total tackles with 10 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, he caused two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and had one interception. Schneider’s 108 tackles is tied for the sixth-most in a single season in program history.
Wood’s numbers were eerily similar to Schneider’s. Wood made 93 tackles, 10 for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and an interception.
Up front, Brown was a terror for opposing offenses to control. The 6-foot-2, 265-pound wrecked havoc to the tune of 59 tackles, eight for loss, and 14.5 sacks with two forced fumbles and two recoveries.
As a kick returner, Born returned 12 kicks totaling 341 yards, for an average of 29 yards per return, and had a 98-yard return for a touchdown in Week 2 of the season in a win over Southview.
Hotz’s first-team selection was the first of three honors he received for his all-around play as he earned second-team recognition as both a wide receiver and a defensive back.
As a punter, Hotz’s 36 kicks traveled 1,323 yards for an average of 36.8 yards, and he pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line 11 times. Defensively, he made 74 total tackles with four pass break-ups. As a receiver, Hotz caught 53 passes, second-most all-time in program history for a single season, for 628 yards (sixth-most in a season all-time). He also set a program record for receptions in a career, 95, and second in career yards, 1,273.
Other second-team all-TRAC selections included defensive lineman Jason Burling, running back Ethan Chumley, quarterback Hayden Lehmann, receiver Bryce McKinstry and offensive lineman Mike Thomas.
Burling bookended the Little Giants’ defensive line, totaling 31 tackles with 10 for loss, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His absence was evident in the Little Giants’ Week 3 loss to Sandusky when the Blue Streaks ran to the side of the field vacated by Burling.
Chumley showed tremendous improvement from his junior year thanks to an offseason dedicated to losing weight and increasing speed. He ran between the tackles for 414 yards on 105 carries with nine touchdowns, and particularly played well down the final stretch of the season.
Lehmann etched his name all over the record book for passing leaders throughout his career. He finished his senior season by completing 164-of-297 passes for 1,918 yards with 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for five more touchdowns and 150 yards. Lehmann will leave the program as only the third passer to ever throw for more than 4,000 yards in his career and second all-time in touchdown passes, with 34.
Lehmann’s big-play target, McKinstry, whose 6-foot-4 frame and wide catch radius made him a nightmare for defenders to cover downfield, finished his season with 38 receptions for 601 yards and a single-season record 10 touchdowns.
As the anchor of the offensive line, Thomas, a 5-10, 190-pounder, led the unit up front which helped the Little Giants total more than 3000 yards of offense. He also provided quiet, steady, veteran leadership to a line whose playing experience at the start of the season was somewhat limited.