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What a difference a year has made for Hersey.
Just 12 months ago, the Huskies had not won a conference championship in 37 years. At the same time, Joe Pardun was the defensive coordinator for the Huskies.
Fast forward, and Hersey is now defending MSL East co-champion while Pardun has become the head coach as Dragan Teonic is now in charge at Larkin.
"Lots of changes," Pardun said. "We really look forward to defending our title this year. We have a group of tough kids that are learning what it takes to stay atop."
Joe Caputo, who started at outside linebacker last year and was the backup quarterback, will take over for the graduated Jack Warner. Pardun feels it will be a smooth transition with Caputo, who will look to keep an offense that averaged nearly 25 points churning.
"He is a terrific all-around athlete," Pardun said. "He understands the offense very well and I expect good things from him."
Chase Bandolik, who gained 120 yards on 27 carries in a limited role last year, should get the bulk of the carries this season. Bryan Castaneda will also be counted on to pick up yards on the ground for the Huskies.
Cole Monckton, who had 19 receptions for 186 yards last season, should be the go-to guy for Caputo. Will Trossen, Erik Anderson and Kamil Jackowski should also be targets.
The offensive line returns three starters from last season. Danny Somary (6-feet-4, 230 pounds), who is the largest of a compact offensive line, along with Spencer Krueger (6-0, 215) and Austin Kane (6-0, 175) all return and are joined by Clayton Smith (5-11, 200), Vlad Pavlenko (6-5, 230) and Josh Mailloux (6-5, 225).
Hersey allowed 250 points last season, and the Huskies, who return six starters from that unit, will look to improve on that number. Pardun, who was the defensive coordinator last year, will retain that role this season.
"These guys have worked very hard to make themselves better," Pardun said.
Caputo will be called on to take on double duty, reprising his role as a linebacker from last year. Anthony Ryan, who also returns, will be playing linebacker, and Collin Pape and William Goldsberry also figure in the group there.
Krueger and Kane will return on the defensive line and will be joined by Pavlenko to add some size. Hersey expects several others to have a chance to make an impact.
Monckton, who had an interception last season, and Trossen will both be back patrolling the secondary. They will be joined by Jackowski and Anderson.
"Our expectation is that we will be competing for the conference title again," Pardun said. "Our kids are hungry for that. I think it will be a good year for us."
The Huskies open their season at home with Glenbrook North, a team they have beaten in their previous three meetings, the last two by convincing scores.