Scouting the Huntley Red Raiders
The time has come for quarterback Chris Raffin to run the Huntley offense.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior's talent and leadership qualities might have landed him a starting position at other schools a year or two ago. There was a roadblock, though -- Raffin was on the same team as Class 8A all-state quarterback Eric Mooney, now at Northern Iowa.
"Having Eric obviously put Chris at the number two spot, but he's a smart football player and a great leader," Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said. "He doesn't have the 40 speed Eric had, but there's not a whole lot of changes that we had to make."
Does that mean less run-pass option, which Mooney used so effectively to rush for 1,200 yards and throw for 2,100?
"We'll still run our RPOs," Zimolzak added. "Eric ran the same plays for two years. Chris is coming in for his first year at the reins, so we had to just trim it down a little bit. We'll do what we're good at rather than doing everything."
Raffin has speedy receivers to target in seniors Michael Boland and Ronel Noll. Zimolzak calls them "two of the fastest guys in the state." Boland was an all-Fox Valley Conference pick last year with 26 receptions for 504 yards and 7 touchdowns.
A pair of sophomores are leading candidates to run the ball. Ryder Havens is a transfer from Hampshire. Bruno Bosman is Huntley's quarterback in waiting. He will spend his sophomore year at a different position, ala Mooney at the same age.
The offensive line is large but largely inexperienced. The lone returning starter is 6-foot-3, 280-pound senior Alex Pitrone. In the mix are seniors Josh Thomas (6-0, 310) and Brian McCallister (6-1, 215) and junior Brandon Klemenz (6-4, 295).
Zimolzak said the defensive line should be a strength. Pitrone will play tackle alongside sophomore Brad Walker (6-1, 240). Matt Burba, a 5-11, 240-pound junior nose guard, was an all-FVC pick as a sophomore. He made 35 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. The other end is Nate Schupbach. The 6-5, 220-pound senior notched 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss last year.
Senior linebacker Michael Talesky is a three-year starter who moves to the middle this season from the strong side. He is flanked by multisport athletes Nolan Engmann, Blake Ottaviano and Rukkus Hunkins.
Boland and Noll will see time at cornerback. Safeties Patrick Roppolo (5 interceptions) and AJ Henkle "are going to be playing tighter to the ball," Zimolzak said. "They love to get to the ball. We have quite a bit of speed. We have a very good, athletic defense."