Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 8/22/2014 2:54 PM

Aurora Christian making smooth transition

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Challenges? Aurora Christian's up for them.

Midseason injuries hammered the Eagles last season yet they reached the Class 3A semifinals. This year they play in a new conference, under a new head coach, with basically all new personnel.

As for the coach, defensive coordinator David Beebe taking over for older brother Don Beebe, still the offensive coordinator, won't be a shock. They've been a package deal atop the program since 2004 and shared in the 2011 and 2012 state championships.

"I don't know if a transition could be as smooth as the one that we've experienced," David Beebe said. " ... I think the only difference is who's going to be calling the timeout."

Switching into the Chicago Catholic League out of the Suburban Christian Conference will be fully apparent starting Week 4 when Aurora Christian visits St. Ignatius in the first of four CCL White conference games and two crossovers, against St. Rita and Marmion.

What may be the greatest challenge is moving forward with 11 new full-time defensive starters and only one player who began last season as a starter, senior quarterback Austin Bray.

At about 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Bray is receiving Mid-American Conference interest. In 10 games last season -- he missed three to injury -- Bray completed 51 percent of his passes for 1,802 yards, 26 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Improving this team co-captain's completion percentage is the goal.

Aurora Christian will undoubtedly reload, and linemen Matt Ward and Jake Smith got starts last season when the players ahead of them got hurt. So did slot receivers Zach Bosek and Jeremiah Wiggins, who caught 42 passes for 261 yards.

Another player with MAC interest, 270-pound two-way tackle Brock Whelan, transferred from Minooka; St. Charles North transfer Nick Edlund gets the running back role and David Beebe thinks he's got a good one in receiver Jacolby Maxwell, who did not play as a junior.

Aurora Christian placed third at the Select 7-on-7 National Competition in Arkansas, so they've got some chops.

Defensively, Smith leads returners with 34 tackles on a unit that returns no true starters but some experience with defensive backs Nick Van Gilse and Jake Richardson, defensive tackle Joe Betterman and linebacker Bosek. Strongman Whalen looks to anchor the line.

This group may not have a ton of reps under its belt but has speed and chemistry that on David Beebe's scale of 1 to 10, he awarded a 10. He'll take great chemistry any day.

"Of all the teams we've had this team's probably going to grow the most because there's a huge upside to a lot of these kids," he said. "The sky's the limit to these kids, they've just got to get the experience."

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