Eight Man-2: Cougars set to face long road ahead

Lyons-Decatur Northeast's Alex Brehmer, a four-year starter at quarterback and cornerback, says confidence is the key to the Cougars' success this season. “We're tiny, but we don't play that play,” he said. “We're very small and quick. I would have to say we're a pretty tough team.”

Alex Brehmer won't back down from the big boys on the Lyons-Decatur Northeast football schedule.

Nearly every opponent has its share of 200-pounders. The Cougars, meanwhile, are lucky if their biggest player weighs 170.

Brehmer, a four-year starter at quarterback and cornerback, is 5-foot-11 and maybe 165.

“We're tiny, but we don't play that way,” Brehmer said. “We're very small and quick. I would have to say we're a pretty tough team.”

Fourth-year coach Dan Maresh says his team plays big. He's instituted a weight-lifting program that's increased the Cougars' agility, strength and speed, while cutting down on injuries.

Brehmer wants to improve his leadership skills, too, and one of his first tasks will be convincing some nervous newcomers that they can take on anyone. Although the Cougars have some experience returning, some freshmen will be counted on to take immediate roles.

“Confidence is going to be the key for us, knowing we can handle everybody that we play,” Brehmer said.

Lyons-Decatur was 6-3 after losing in the first round of the Eight Man-2 playoffs last season, and the Cougars are looking for more. Brehmer will be a big part of any improvement — Maresh calls him the point guard of the team.

Last year, he rushed 166 times for 1,165 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was 30-of-58 passing for 472 yards and eight scores. He was also the team's leading tackler with 54 solo and 75 assisted stops, earning him Eight Man-2 all-state honors.

On defense, he's a disciplined player who has a nose for the ball and is always in the right place, Maresh said. On offense, he lets the game come to him and does well at distributing the ball.

“He's what you want out of your best player,” Maresh said. “He shows up early, he's there every day for workouts and he does all the offseason stuff. He's been a leader on and off the field.”

Although he's all about team, Brehmer has some individual goals. He wants to work hard on his footwork, which hasn't always been a big focus.

Still, after four years as a starter, he feels comfortable at both positions.

“I love playing both sides of the ball,” he said.

He won't have to carry the team himself. Three teammates played a lot last season — senior Dakota Riecken, a linebacker and tight end; junior Chevy Henneman, a running back and linebacker; and senior David Bishop, an offensive and defensive lineman.

The Cougars open the season Aug. 30 at home against Spalding/Spalding Academy, a first-time opponent. One of their biggest challenges will be Oct. 4 against Humphrey St. Francis, last year's Eight Man-2 runner-up.

The Flyers also happen to be one of the bigger teams.

“Pretty much every team has a bunch of monsters over 200,” Maresh said. “We'll just have to try and outrun them.”

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