Vince Williams (30) will work on both sides of the ball again this season for Streamwood.
Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer
Streamwood hopes to someday reflect on its 2011 playoff appearance as the starting point of a long, successful run.
The Sabres reached the postseason last year for the first time since 2002, thanks to a 6-3 regular season that resulted in a third-place finish in the Upstate Eight Conferences River Division (3-3). They played Crystal Lake South tough for a half before bowing out in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, 35-7.
Though leading rusher Alex Morrow (1,318 yards, 15 TD) has taken his talents to Northern Illinois University and quarterback Dalton Lundeen now pitches for Valparaiso, seventh-year coach Cal Cummins returns a bevy of high-caliber athletes at wide receiver and along both lines, among other spots.
Can Streamwood repeat what has been a rare feat?
We set some goals and one of them was to try to get the back-to-back playoff thing going, Cummins said. Another would be to step up to that higher level of teams in our division.
The schedule draw makes the road to 6 wins tougher. Last years UEC crossover game was against winless East Aurora. The Sabres instead draw a Week 3 road game at UEC Valley Division favorite Waubonsie Valley. Hoffman Estates and Dundee-Crown also finished without a win last year, but both should be improved.
Regardless, every Streamwood opponent will have to guard against speed, an asset the Sabres possess in abundance.
The wide receiver position is a particular strong point, headed by Northern Illinois-bound senior Blake Holder (6-2, 195). An all-area pick last year and a two-time sectional track champion in the 100-meter dash (10.96 last May), he had 24 receptions (6 TD) for 587 yards as a junior.
Holder isnt the only speedy receiver returning. Senior Deji Giwa (6-0, 175) made 18 catches for 281 yards and 5 touchdowns and sure-handed senior Austin Mugnai (5-10, 175) had 8 receptions for 78 yards. Joining that group is athletic senior Sean Patterson (6-4, 177), who Cummins said reminds him of Holder. Has he ever coached a more talented corps of receivers?
From a physical standpoint its probably one of my best groups, Cummins said. Well see how they do. They need to run routes and catch balls, but theyve all seen action. I know Id like to take them into the track season. These kids can get out and move.
Senior Jordan McFeggan (6-2, 180) backed up Lundeen at quarterback last season and gets the starting nod, but Cummins said Wheaton Warrenville South junior transfer Mason Polich (6-1, 221) will gain more playing time as he becomes more comfortable within the system. McFeggan will need rest since hell also play in the defensive secondary in some situations.
I think they are both going to contribute, Cummins said. Ive had kids that rotated all year and we did pretty well. Im not going to exchange quarterbacks just to exchange quarterbacks. They both offer different things. Jordan likes to run and Mason is a big boy with a pretty strong arm.
Sophomore Noah Polich (5-10, 161), Masons brother, was so impressive in summer camp the coaches elevated him to the varsity receiving group, though that cup already runneth over.
Vince Williams (6-1, 234) adds running back duties to his regular gig as a terrorizing inside linebacker. Hell trade carries with senior running back Tyler Hendershot (6-0, 196), who added 30 off-season pounds, and shifty junior Lenard Brown (5-10, 176).
Senior veterans A.J. Mitchell (6-0, 264) and Mike Murawski (6-2, 202) lead the offensive line and both will play key defensive roles.
The secondary returns Mugnai, an all-UEC River pick, along with Giwa, Brown and McFeggan.
If the Sabres are lacking, its in the leadership department.
We need some better leadership than weve had up to this point, Cummins said early this week. A lot of guys have had successes at all different levels but have deferred as leaders. Now theres no one to defer to. If we get that kind of leadership, this group could really jell and become a fine team.