Feb. 10—On any football team, some of the most overlooked, but important guys are on the offensive and defensive lines.
That is no different at Tuscola.
"You can't say enough about them," Tuscola football coach Jonathan Crompton said. "When I got here, the first thing I told my offense was that our typical plan is to throw to get up and then win it in the trenches. That's what we did. Especially back-to-back weeks late in the season. They fully bought into the hard-nosed mentality that we preached."
On Feb. 7, a day celebrated across the country as National Signing Day, two of those key offensive linemen for the Mounties officially took the next step toward their collegiate dreams.
Stephen Brooks signed to play at D-I Presbyterian, while Josh Krueger signed to play at D-II Lenoir-Rhyne.
"I'm very excited to have a new future at Lenoir-Rhyne. It means a lot to have all these coaches support me and take me through high school and give me the opportunity and the skills I need to play at the next level," Krueger said. "I'm very happy with how things turned out. I'm very grateful for the offer from Lenoir-Rhyne, and I'm very excited to get there and start grinding."
His dad, Kevin Krueger, said there were many weekend trips to visit schools and attend camps, but his son seemed destined to be a Bear.
"It's real special. It's been a long time coming — a lot of work, a lot of Saturdays with extra training, a lot of one-on-ones," he said. "From the first visit at Lenoir-Rhyne, that was the one he really wanted to go to. It's amazing that it all worked out."
Josh Krueger said this was due to the relationships the coaches had with their players.
"When I did go to visit and communicated with the coaches, it just felt right," he said.
Things went similarly for Brooks at Presbyterian.
"It wasn't necessarily a hard decision," he said. "Once I took the visit to Presbyterian, I knew that was what felt right for me."
He said a big part of that feeling came from how the coaches treated their players.
"Most of it was the environment and the relationship I could see the players had with their coaches," Brooks said. "Part of it was just talking to the coaches in meetings, and I could tell they really cared about the program and the players."
His father, Lee Brooks, said there was a lot of hard work to get to this point.
"It's beyond words. He's earned his way all the way through school. He did a fantastic job this year," he said. "If you knew him and knew his character, he strives very hard to do whatever his coach asks him to do. He'll be just fine. He can play at the D-I level."
Stephen Brooks said things were super chaotic early on in the recruiting process because they weren't sure how to go about things. But Crompton and coaches Austin Sluder and Austin Chambers were able to help the entire family through the process.
"It was pretty tough at times," Lee Brooks said. "We didn't really know the process. Now that we've learned a little more about the process, we're going to try to pass it along to people behind us."
While Crompton will certainly miss the two young men protecting his quarterback next year, the coach said that they set the future linemen up for success at Tuscola.
"Those two have set the groundwork for the next however many years to come," Crompton said. "Next year's juniors and seniors saw what they've done, so everyone is working their butt off now to be like them."
Krueger is planning to major in business, while Brooks is undecided.