Jeff Chiles 29 Aug 1997
BY DAVID OBERHEI.MAN Daily Herald Correspondent More now than in recent memory, memory, the cliche holds true regarding regarding Fox Valley Conference football: football: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Grayslake jumped into the FVC from the Northwest Suburban conference and the new Prairie Ridge emerged in Crystal Lake, bringing the team roster to 10 clubs. Though Prairie Ridge raided Crystal Lake Central's roster, neither newcomer will be able to Steinhaus fosters new hope forD-C BY DAVID OBERHELMAN Daily Herald Correspondent The past few years have been lean ones for Dundee-Crown football football and coach Bob Carlson, including consecutive 1-8 seasons. seasons. This year, there seems to be a ray of hope for the Chargers. Although they have lost two main cogs with tailback Sergio Tinajero Tinajero and tackle Brian Koppen now graduated, they return three-year quarterback Josh Steinhaus and what Carlson thinks is a bigger, faster team. "I think we're better than we've been the last couple of years," Carlson said. "We've got more talent than we've had. We've got more kids that can play than we've had in the last couple of years." Steinhaus, a three-sport athlete at Dundee-Crown, started as the varsity quarterback as a sophomore sophomore and for more than half of his junior year before Rick Popilek got a whirl at the spot. Now, Steinhaus again gets the starting role. "He has experience," Carlson said. "We expect him to go out and be a competent quarterback. We've invested the time in him and he's invested the time in us, and I see no reason why he can't have a very successful year. "...He's in his third year, so he's got to feel more familiar than he ever has." Steinhaus and Popilek combined combined for just 23 completions out of 81 attempts last season, for 328 yards, 7 interceptions and only 1 touchdown. Though Carlson said that the balance between running and passing will depend on the opponent opponent — and that he'd like to dictate dictate that balance rather than the opposition — he thinks the Chargers will display more diverse offensive weaponry than before. "I think our strength is we probably probably have a little more quickness than we've had both at receiver and tailback in the last few years," he said. "We've got two very fine tailbacks and two fullbacks fullbacks that play well. Our receivers have caught the ball well and, like I said, they've got a little more speed than we've had in the last few years." Returning with that speed are receivers Tim Pentz and Howie Lemley. Esteban Barrera (162 yards on 44 carries last season) returns at fullback, behind veteran veteran guard Rob Kreplin (6-2, 210) and tackle Tim Harmon (6-3,280). Harmon is the:only lineman who approaches the heft of the 295-pound Koppen, but Carlson said, "we're not bad in size across the front offensively." He lists tight end Schroeder (66, (66, 215), center David Connell (6-1, 195), left guard Ed Dabrowski (510, (510, 235) and left tackle Matt Mapes (6-1,195). "We've played with some awfully awfully small kids the last couple of years, at linebacker and tailback and a bunch of those positions," Carlson said. "I think we've helped ourselves a little that we've got a little more size. Plus, we're going to start 18 different kids, which will be a little different different for us, too, in the last couple or years anyway." They're 18 different kids who are trying hard at to instill pride in Dundee-Crown football. They've made an impression on their coach. "They're a great bunch of kids," Carlson said. "They've worked very, very hard. We had a six- week summer camp that they came to everyday and worked hard, "They're going to be successful no matter what the Scoreboard says. They're a good disciplined group, and they seem to be cohesive, cohesive, so that's about all you can ask out of a group." unseat McHenry, which aims for its eighth straight conference title in Warriors coach Mike Noll's nine seasons. "McHenry has to be beaten before anybody can say anything about the conference," admitted Crystal Lake South coach Tony Albert. "It really is as plain as that." Sure, the Warriors (8-3, 7-0 FVC) lost linebacker Dan Phillips, safety Al Wilson and tight end Jace Sayler, each of whom made various all-state teams in 1996. But for the first time under Noll they return a quarterback, Dennis Dennis Jackson. "He threw for over 1,500 yards last year, so he's gonna be good," Noll said. McHenry also returns all- conference fullback Pete Rasmussen, Rasmussen, tailback Steve Lewis and two starting offensive linemen. Defensively Noll returns three backfield players, a linebacker and defensive tackle Eric Ferdinand. Ferdinand. Last year, however, McHenry's title was in doubt until the last regular season game, when the Warriors beat a strong Wood- stock (10-2, 6-1) club that finished finished 6-1 in the Fox Valley Conference Conference and advanced to the third round of the Class 4A playoffs. playoffs. The Blue Streaks will be back, behind quarterback Adam Vetere (more than 1,900 yards passing, 23 touchdowns, 6 interceptsion), . tailback Craig Kastning (12 TDs) and linebackers Brian Sundberg (161 tackles) and Roy Fritz (110 tackles). Also looking strong MI FVC coaches' eyes is Cary-Grove, which finished with a 7-2 overall record, and a 5-2 mark in the FVC. "Cary-Grove's got an awful lot of speed and Woodstock has a lot of experience coming back from their playoff team of a year ago, so I think they both should be very good," Albert said. "Lake Zurich's awful talented," Noll added. "There's some good teams in the conference, but I would start with those three (McHenry, Woodstock, Cary- Grove.)" One thing's for certain, said Woodstock coach Ed Brucker: "It's going to be interesting with the new schools coming in." Fox Valley Conference 1996 standings Conf. Overall 8-3 McHenry Woodstock Cary-Grove LakeZurich CL Central CL South ' Dundee-Crown Jacobs 7-0' 6-1 5-2 3-4 3-4 3-4 1-6 0-7 10-2 7-3 5-4 3-6 4-5 1-8 1-8 New coach, system sparks new outlook Jacobs determined to succeed with promising passing game BY DAVID OBERHELMAN Dally Herald Correspondent "Our goals are always going to be champions." It's kind of strange to hear that coming from a coach of a team that was 1-8 last season. But Dean Schlueter wasn't the coach at Jacobs last season. And with a large group of enthusiastic players, he believes that there's nowhere to go but up. "I'm really proud of how they've really worked and been cooperative cooperative as far as with the new system and everything," everything," Schlueter said. "It's a real good group of young men that I'm real proud of." There was at least one facet of Jacobs' game last season that people could be proud of: the Jacobs QB Scott Drafall Jacobs' Mark Ryczek proved to be a gutsy receiver .ast season for the Golden Eagles.^ combination of quarterback Scott Drafall to receiver Mark Ryczek, both of whom made the Daily Herald's 1996 Fox Valley all-area team and are back this year. Drafall completed 121 of 215 passes for 1,257 yards, behind only Crystal Lake South's Jeff Chiles in the Fox Valley, setting a Jacobs record for a junior. "I think the whole experience from last season — playing a whole season, being the starting quarterback — it's just a real good thing for him to know what the competition's like, what it's like under pressure," Schlueter said. "He's really willing to take a lot of the burden of the offense on his shoulders and do whatever it takes to win." Ryczek — whose yardage numbers numbers didn't grab the attention that his hands and guts did — caught 33 passes, many of them toughies over the middle, for 391 yards. Now a senior, he was assisted by another returning receiver and safety, Danny Hopp, who caught 26 balls for 334 yards. Jacobs returns several other players: running backs Chris Pagan, Pagan, who will start at fullback, plus backs John Brown and Charlie Charlie Schnell; tight end Kyle Morgenroth; offensive lineman Matt Nelms; safety Matt Reitmeier; and middle linebacker John Kedrow- Drafall's right-handed slinging can mean instant offense. Defense is another story for a team that finished fourth from the bottom locally locally in yardage allowed (335) and third from the bottom in turnover ratio (minus-9). However, Schlueter said that with players like Hopp and Reitmeier Reitmeier and Andy Simonds in the defensive backfield and Pat Boros and Tom Green up front, "We've come along real well in that area. "That's been a nice surprise," the new coach said. "We've progressed real good as far as how we're hitting and getting getting after people. I like that about our club." So far, for a squad that's gone 117 117 the last two years, things sound darn positive. "We're going to go into every game believing that we can win," Schlueter said. "We believe that we can be competitive in every situation and we're gonna do what it takes to win." Reinforcements should maintain Cary-Grove's ability By DAVID OBERHELMAN Daily Herald Correspondent Remember Cary-Grove quarterback quarterback Rob Evans, who helped the Trojans' offense compile 350 yards per game last season? Or receiver Chad Asprooth, the track star who converted 7 of his 20 catches into touchdowns? Both the all-area quarterback and the sideline sprinter have graduated. But beware, Gary opponents — there are others like them. And they're everywhere. everywhere. "Last year we had the speed on defense and weren't quite as fast in the backfield other than Evans," said Cary-Grove coach Bruce Kay. "Well, now we have the speed back there, so I think if we distribute the ball well enough we can make big plays." There's more. "Not only are just the backs fast, but we think our linebackers run real well," Kay said. "And we think our defensive linemen are pretty athletic." First, the real speed-burners. There's receiver and defensive back Rashad McDade, clocked at 4.55 in the 40-yard dash. There's cornerback Kevin Kaplan (4.61), and fullback/linebacker Larry Pandocki. Each of them will be doing double-duty — one of the Trojans' weaknesses with only 35 varsity athletes. Among the 10 starters Cary returns are all-conference linebacker linebacker Ben Brock (5-8, 154); last year's top lineman, Paul Meyer (5-10, 195); basketball-quick Dan Roche (6-3, 235); Jake Hodgson (5-11, 226); and, when he returns from a neck injury, the team's strongest player, guard Matt Marfongelli(6-0,230). "I think the biggest thing for us, like everybody, is to avoid injuries," Kay said, "and then we need to develop the second-line players so we know we can have quality in substitution." Replacing Evans at quarterback will be Tony Parrillo, last year's sophomore starter. "He's got very good strength," Kay said. "He's a real smart kid. He understands what we're trying trying to do. He doesn't have quite the foot speed that Evans did, but not many do. But he's done a good job making decisions." On its way to a playoff berth and a 5-2 conference mark last sea- son, Gary beat the teams it should in the Fox Valley, and lost to McHenry and Woodstock. Those will again be the two targets. targets. "We're expecting to finish at least where we finished last year, if not better," Kay said. "Our goal is to win the conference. conference. We feel that that's a realistic realistic shot. But it's not going to be an easy shot, by no means. "We definitely have got the talent talent to be decent. Now, if we have the character and chemistry, that's what the season's all about." Gators take a more traditional track BY DAVID OBEIIHELMAN Daily Herald Correspondent Since Jeff Chiles was brought up to play quarterback for Crystal Lake South during his sophomore year, the Gators hopes hinged on the southpaw's strong arm. Now that both the all-conference all-conference Chiles and QB/tight end Doug Krause have graduated — and that incoming senior Dreu Larson moved away — it's a whole new ballgame. Or, rather, a return to the pre-Chiles ball- game. After narrowing the field to two candidates, CLS coach Tony Albert has selected incoming sophomore Tim Padjen — son of Streamwood coach John Padjen — as his starting QB. Tim's throwing earned him the nod ahead of last year's sophomore starter, Tim Larkins. "They're both more like Krause was than Chiles, they're both runners," runners," Albert said. "They both have the ability to throw the ball, but we are going to be much more of a triple-option team than we were with Jeff. It'll look like the offense of old Crystal Lake teams prior to Jeff Chiles, I guess. "So we won't be throwing the ball 20 times a game like we have been," Albert added. "We'll be back to try to control the ball on the ground, and we're real pleased with how our triple- option looks. All of our running backs behind the quarterback have looked real good." Albert indicated he will rotate four players in the backfield: returning fullbacks Dan Fure and Dave Bottcher and tailback starter Ryan Baran and back-up Nick Weiseman. All but Weiseman Weiseman are seniors, though they didn't didn't see much time behind last year's tandem of fullback Jason Nawracaj and tailback Pete Lemanis. But with a sophomore starting at quarterback and a junior as his back-up, much of the pressure will be on the Gators' offensive line, which will miss the outstanding outstanding Bert Merlo. Fortunately, Albert said, "that's where most of our experience lies." Joining wide receiver Paul Cosman Cosman as CLS's only returning offensive starters is guard Rob Page (6-0, 235). Also starting will be center Chris Schneider (6-3, 185), guard Eric Molner (6-1, 175) and tackles Rob Obodzinski (6-4, 200) and Bryan Schubert (6-0, 230). They'll'have to make sure that Padjen and Larkins stay vertical vertical long enough to connect with a receiver. "They're very aware of that,' Albert said. "I coach the offensive line and we talk about 'that every day, that they're going to have to do their job in order for either of the two Tims to do theirs." With the inexperience on offense, Albert is looking for his defense to help the Gators stay in games until the offense develops. He doesn't want his linemen going both ways — and with 48 players on the roster probably doesn't have to — but with the exception of junior Jason Campion Campion (5-10, 175), that's the way it'll start. The four in the secondary — cornerbacks Cosman and Weiseman Weiseman and safeties Fure and Larkins — comprise what Albert calls "the best group of four in terms of athletes that we've had in a few years in the secondary." They'll need to back up linebackers linebackers Bottcher in the middle, flanked by J. R. Smouth and Jeremy Jeremy Gerlach. Following an "under-achieving" Crystal Lake South coach Tony Albert says he'll change the GatOrS Offensive lOOk this Season. Daily Herald Photo/Daniel While season when a senior-based squad followed a surprising 6-4 playoff season in 1995 with a disappointing disappointing 4-5 record, Albert looks to rekindle the flame with some new blood. "The big thing that's got be different different is confidence," he said, "That's what we have to have. We've got to build some confidence. confidence. We have the athletes to win football games."