New head coach, same loaded program.
Huntley goes in a new direction in 2016 as former defensive coordinator Matt Zimolzak takes over for John Hart, but the talent pool at the Fox Valley Conference's largest school remains deep.
The Red Raiders return rising stars on either side of the ball.
Defensive end prospect Olalere Oladipo is a 6-foot-4, 245-pound senior who recently whittled his 22 Division-I offers down to finalists Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois, Indiana, Duke and California. Last season in 9 games, he registered 4 sacks and 10 tackles for loss among his 29 solo tackles and 10 assists.
On offense, quarterback heir apparent Eric Mooney is one of the more dynamic athletes in the Class of 2018. A read-option offense will allow the football-savvy, 6-foot-1, 188-pound junior to exploit the crease with his 4.4 speed. Last year as a running back and part-time quarterback, Mooney carried 76 times for 847 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also had 26 receptions for 597 yards and 3 scores.
Zimolzak, who coached at Fremd for 17 seasons under hall-of-famer Mike Donatucci before joining Hart's staff at Huntley in 2012, hopes to make use of his standouts deep into November.
The Red Raiders went 27-9 in the regular season over the last four years under Hart, who left in the off-season for the vacant coaching position in Brownsburg, Ind. However, those teams went 1-3 in three playoff appearances. Last year, Huntley won the Fox Valley Conference's Valley Division and was 10-0 before being upset at home by Oswego in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs.
"We'd like to win the conference but that's not our main goal. It's about how well we do in the playoffs," Zimolazak said. "We really want to go deeper and deeper in the playoffs and we have players on offense and defense that complement each other well. There's good support between the two units. The kids are excited about playing."
Mooney is joined in the backfield by senior tailback Mike Ahmer. In 2 games as a junior before he was lost for the season due to injury, Ahmer gained 281 yards and scored a touchdown in 32 attempts.
Another skilled returnee is wide receiver Alec Coss (6-0, 165), also a varsity basketball and baseball player. As a junior, Coss led Huntley in receptions (32), yards (640) and touchdown catches (8)
The offensive line returns its leader in senior tackle Andrew Pertzborn (6-1, 285). He is flanked by a pair of returning starters, senior Justin Domingo (5-11, 285) and junior Cody Gaynor (5-10, 190)
Defensively, the line promises to be stout with Oladipo bookended by returning starter Caleb Jones, who last year had 6 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. Also back is tackle Tyler Hartline (6-1, 240), who finished last season with 5 tackles for loss, along with lineman/linebacker hybrid Tony Bucaro.
Outside linebacker Tyler Szekely (6-0, 200) returns but the defense must fill several holes, particularly in the secondary..
"We lost all our defensive backs but the great thing about our numbers is we have some really good players stepping up, seniors," Zimolzak said.