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Larkin coach Mike Scianna believes third-year quarterback Kyle Newquist has the talent to become the program's third all-state player in as many years, following in the footsteps of running back Jalen Williams and wide receiver Trevor Whitehead.
But who will catch passes from Newquist, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior?
His main target last year, Whitehead, graduated. His 1,258 yards represented 80.2 percent of Newquist's season total of 1,568. Whitehead also caught 7 of Newquist's 12 scoring strikes.
Two of the team's best athletes, seniors Shaquille Mosley (5-10, 180) and Justin Banks (5-8, 150), will be prime candidates to produce at the receiver position. Banks was an all-Upstate Eight River cornerback last year and will play both ways. Mosley was a running back who carried the ball 36 times for 52 yards and a touchdown.
"One of them, mostly Shaq, has to step up at receiver," said second-year coach Mike Scianna, whose Royals finished 3-6 in 2010. "Kyle's a great quarterback. Everyone knows him at this point. I'm looking for him for leadership and to put up some numbers. That said, others have to step up for us."
Running back is just such a position, most likely to be manned by an underclassman. "We've got some kids battling for it," Scianna said, "so that's good for us."
The good news for Newquist is the return of all-UEC River lineman Terry Schabert (6-2, 315). The junior will play either center or guard. Junior Adam Hamiel (6-2, 270) and senior Emmanuel Jungo (6-2, 260) also provide size up front.
Senior Brett Barry (5-10, 175) returns to play linebacker. He'll be flanked on the outside by newcomer Drew Shore, also a baseball player. Another newcomer bound to make an impact in the secondary is Luka Bogicevic (5-11, 180). Scianna said Bogicevic can play multiple positions.
The Royals begin the season with a roster of 34 players, so depth will be a factor if injuries arise.
Larkin will play three of its first four games on the road (at McHenry Aug. 26, at West Chicago Sept. 2, at St. Charles East Sept. 16) prior to facing Elgin in the annual Town Jug game on Sept. 24 at 1:30 p.m.
"It's the toughest schedule we've had in the four years I've been with the program," said Scianna, who coached this year's senior class when they were freshmen. "The first two are on the road and we've got to have them. We added on a DuPage Valley school and we've got to win that game if we want to break over the hump and get that fifth win.
"I'm proud of this group of seniors for sticking with it through thick and thin. They did a good job in the weight room in the off-season. It's a team mentality with them, not a me mentality."