8/24 7:00 H
2007 Team Preview
Morris, Ready to Play This Year
Morris - The first thought you get while talking with Morris head coach George Dergo about his returning players from last seasons’ 7-4 squad, is that it’s almost like they never left, but were never really there either.
With several starters going down last year either because of a preseason, or early season injuries and in one case academic reasons, one would have to guess if Dergo had started everyone he wanted to last year, would the Redskins have managed a better record with a run at the title, or would they at least been able to generate some buzz in the media about a team that was full of returners.
With any luck, Dergo feels if the team can stay healthy this season they have as good a chance as any to make a run deep into the playoffs.
Both Ben Olsen (OL/DL 6’4 273 sr.) & Jordan Cryder (OL/DL 5’10 268 sr.) missed all or most of last season with injuries and were slated to be two-way starters. Charlie Shroba (NT 5’8 182 sr.) also missed playing last season. Dergo felt that with those three up front the line would have been pretty solid on defense.
Nathan Slattery will return at line backer and Zach Thetard (DB 6’ 176 sr.) & Steven Wagner (S 5’11 183 sr.) make up the rest of the returning defensive backfield.
Another injury that took a toll on the Redskins was running back Abe Black (6’1 203 sr.). Black, is back along with returning quarterback Drew Hanson (6' 195 sr.) and 3 linemen, Tyler Hartley (C 5’10 235 sr.), Eric Miller (LT 6’2 219 sr.) & John Fuentes (LG 5’10 246 sr.). All of them will all be back and looking to make an impact in the Southwest Prairie Conference.
Talking about how Morris matches up with the likes of bigger conference teams like Plainfield Central (8A) & Plainfield South (7A), Dergo said “We’re just an average 8A team and if they’re just an average 8A team, then that we’ll be tough for us.”
Morris who was in 6A last year when the football enrollment number was determined by your opponents enrollment, will most likely be in 5A this year, as actual enrollments will determine the class breakdown for all boundary schools.
Morris who starts off with like sized Pontiac in week #1, takes on top ranked Joliet Catholic in week #2 before facing off against 7A Oswego in week #3.
Dergo really doesn’t feel that the team has an easy game in the conference. “Don’t kid yourself, Minooka has some kids that will be starting their third year. We knocked them out of the playoffs last year, so you know that’s a revenge thing” He said. Adding that Romeoville almost beat them last year (14-6) and Plainfield North has some athletes & size. “We’ve got some of the toughest schedules Morris teams have ever seen since I’ve been here.”
At the same time, he’s not going to be surprised if the conference title goes to a team with one or maybe two losses.
Staying healthy is Dergo & his staff’s primary goal after last season. “We’re a decent size 5A team. Are we going to stand around and beat on 7A or 8A teams? Heck no! We have to stay healthy and execute well. We’ve got to be on the top of our game on each and every Friday night.” Dergo said. Emphasizing to his players that “It can be over any second and there are people that just wish they had the talent to get out there. So make the best of it.” In reference to a possible season ending injury.
Dergo feels confident that even if the team makes the playoffs at 6-3 or 5-4 they’ve got a good chance at making a deep run. “We went in last year at 6A and we weren’t a 6A team last year. We had a 6A team when we were the champs. That year, we had a 7 or 8A team that year, but we’re not going to have that year in and year out. This year we’re a solid 5A school”. Of course he did make the point that sometimes when you’re 5-4 you get the state champs right off the bat.
Talking about other public schools across the state that have winning traditions, we enquired about how important the town and its fans are for Morris. Dergo replied, “[This year] at practice everybody is having fun… You can tell by the buzz in the town and it’s not like that every year.”
Speaking of buzz, expect to hear a thing or two over the next two seasons about twin brothers Adam (6’ 201 RB/DB) & Drew Tondini (RB/LB 6’ 225). Dergo, who rarely brings up underclassmen, said he almost brought the pair to varsity last year, adding that they should see plenty of playing time this season as well as next.
by Vincent Johnson
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