8/24 7:30 @
2005 Coal City Football Preview
The last time the boys of green and gold were seen in pads they were hoisting up the state runner-up trophy in Champaign as the last remaining 4A public school in a privately dominated championship weekend. Like high school and collegiate teams do yearly, Coal City has lost many seniors and key members of last year’s team. But who are these Coalers?
Graduated are key members of the defensive line and linebacking corps from a defense that rarely allowed a score during last season’s championship chase. When months go by without teams scoring points against you, you’re doing something right!
Returning for Coal City are 14 lettermen. Nick Bonarek returns to head up the defense at linebacker. A starter last season and contributor as a sophomore, Bonarek showed the ability to excel at both the linebacker and defensive line position. He will be counted on to bring leadership and playmaking to the defense this season. Joining him at linebacker is Bernie D’Orazio. In the secondary, Luke Turner and Brian Naiden return to shut down the opposition’s receivers. Up front for the Coalers’ defense will be big Keegan Grant. At 6’4”and close to 300 pounds, Grant is as daunting as they come at the high school level. Add in his record-setting efforts at the power-lifting meet this summer and assume opposing running backs will be sprinting out of his direction.
Offensively, the Coalers return running back Zach Smith who was having a monster of a season last year as a sophomore before suffering what amounted to be a season-ending injury. Smith will be called on to run off game clock and not turn the ball over with the lead, which he was successful at a year ago. At receiver, Ben Rouse returns in what many will hope to be the go-to role. At six feet and 177 pounds, Rouse looks to be the biggest of this crop of receivers (size and production wise).
This season’s starting quarterback is Jack Carpenter. A second-string signal caller a year ago, Carpenter has been in the system and should only suffer slightly from opening day jitters. Carpenter had practiced against a stellar defense last year and what is shaping up to be another excellent Lenny Onsen defense this summer, so chances are he won’t be facing much better defenses for awhile. Former quarterback Brad Boresi, who orchestrated the first playoff victory in the Onsen-era two-seasons ago, is assisting Onsen and offensive coordinator Dan Hutchings and will provide excellent tutelage to Carpenter and the other quarterbacks.
Other returning lettermen are; receiver/defensive back Chris Walsh and James Knoblach, linemen Josh Hinkelman, Brian Popovich, Derek Chapin and Matt Rodriguez who will see action at tight end. Seniors in the fray are; Austin McDowell, Marc Olsen, Michael Bernard, and Kyle McCarville.
Junior running back/linebacker Kevin Tuskey should see considerable playing time after a successful junior varsity career. Juniors on the defensive/offensive lines are; Adam Kambic, Jake Tackett, Matt Trofimchuck, Wesley Trammel, Jake Daniels, Mike Kettmann and Thomas Barra. Mike Baker, Drew Benson, Alex Watson, Chris Kaluzny and Brian Goff are set to catch passes in 2005. While Watson plays linebacker and Kaluzny plays defensive line, the others will suit up as defensive backs.
Throughout the course of the season, the Coalers will dress nine sophomores at the varsity level. Linemen Alan Calderon, Eric Montanez and Nick Trotter are joined by running back/defensive back Joe Singer and Noah Roseland. Timm Kroeger and Justin Blaine will play defensive back (wide receiver and quarterback respectively too), Chris Hajdu will play running back and linebacker and Morgan Sheridan rounds out the sophomore class as the team’s place kicker.
Previously unmentioned assistant coaches to Onsen are the legendary Ken P. Miller, Greg Wills, Ryan Bunton, Jim Mikula, Ray Taylor and Jeff Emerson.
Can the Coalers unseat the three-time defending Interstate Eight champion Wilmington Wildcats? Yes. Wilmington has lost every bit as much as Coal City with its departed group of seniors, some would argue much more. Nevertheless, they will continue to be a fearsome foe and are predicted by many to maintain their winning ways. The Coalers and Wildcats do not meet until the last week of the regular-season, a home competition for the Coalers, so the onus is on the play against and between the rest of the conference.
Onlookers must become conscious that in this season, some of the field is starting to catch up to the upper tier of the Interstate Eight .
The Coalers will travel to play their first two games of the season. Many have figured that the Coalers’ week one opponent, the Plano Reapers, will be a much-improved team from past seasons. Plano has played excellently at the JV level, it now hopes to take the next step and transfer that prowess to the big stage. Dwight hosts the Coalers in week two.
The home opener in 2005 will be versus the Reed-Custer Comets. Reed-Custer (Braidwood) is another year older, full of talent and wouldn’t shock many if it came away with a third place finish in conference and/or a playoff spot this year. Lisle has will probably continue to be the best of the second tier in the conference. The Coalers will do battle against the Lions in week four at Benedictine University. The Sandwich Indians will bring their running game into Coal City for a week five game that is sure to be won in the trenches.
Week six puts the Coalers out on the road again, this time versus Manteno. The Irish of Seneca come to town in lucky week number seven hoping to avenge last year’s blowout loss at the hands of the Coalers. Peotone hosts the Coalers before they strap up the helmets for that contest against the Wildcats of Wilmington.
by Jim Ludes
Last Season's Record:
First Varsity Season:
Past Player Watch
-Coal City HS (official)
8/25 7:30 H
8/26 7:30 @
8/27 7:30 H *
8/29 7:30 @ *
8/30 7:30 H *