Focused Sabres have experience, talent

Focused Sabres have experience, talent

The way the summer went for Neil Jensen and Brandon Snoberger, you’d have thought they had a full-time travel agent all to themselves.

Between the two, the Sartell seniors’ busy itineraries included college camps at Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Illinois State and Winona State. And that doesn’t include an Elite 11 camp in Chicago.

“They’re all about the same,” said Snoberger, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound senior quarterback who is obviously drawing college interest.

“It’s all about exposure,” said Jensen, a 6-1, 220-pound senior fullback/linebacker who put some high mileage on his luggage.

The travel was a little less busy, but the interest is as high for Anthone Thene and Darek Stachowski. Both are healthy after offseason surgery. Thene, the enormous tackle, had work done to his shoulder. Stachowski, the Sabres’ single-season rushing leader, had arthroscopic knee surgery.

The four are senior captains for the Sabres, who are returning a bus load of experienced players from a squad that ended its 2013 season in the state playoffs.

“We’ve got some new guys filling spots really well,” said Thene, an offensive tackle listed at 6-3, 350. “Hopefully, they’ll get better and better the more they play.”

Stachowski, 6-0 and 180, rushed for a school-record 2,155 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Section 8-5A champions.

He’s closing in on the all-time school record of 2,865 yards held by 1995 graduate Tommy Stark. Stark was a St. Cloud State teammate of head coach Scott Hentges.

Hentges quickly will add this team is more than the captains. This an unusually talented, hard-working group.

“It’s really nice to have a lot of experience back,” Hentges said. “I think we’re a little ahead of where we usually are and where we’ve been in the past.

“We took our lumps early last year, played a lot of juniors. But it’s paying off, at least right now.”

Hentges mentioned that it’s more than just Thene on the line. Right tackle Brandon Fern, he said, has improved immensely and should be a big contributor.

Hunter Anderson should have a big year opposite of Jensen on the defensive line. Linebackers Daniel Vitale and Payton Voss are coming off strong 2013 seasons. Vitale is an outstanding wrestler.

Grant Lahn, a former quarterback, should be a big factor at linebacker and will rotate at tight end.

And it’s not all Stachowski and the running game offensively. Jensen and Snoberger said that Ben Rengel looks like he will have a big year as a receiver. Wide receiver Jake Lieberg, the only junior expected to start on offense, and tight end Tony Deeb also will contribute.