New bunch, same high expectation for Barrington
Graduation took a toll on Barrington. Again.
But for football coach Joe Sanchez, it is just part of the process. And the Broncos have been able to overcome the challenge year after year.
"We have been fortunate in my time here that it is the next guy's turn," Sanchez said. "It was a very senior-laden group last year -- just like the year before that, and the year before that. I say that every year we are going to graduate a great group of players."
The 2017 Broncos will return just six players. They hope to lead a Barrington team to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season and seventh time in the last eight years.
"We are going to have a lot of new guys and a lot of new faces," Sanchez said. "But I am excited about that. I think there is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. But like anything, it is going to take time for that talent to build."
One thing that won't need to take time will be the development of a new quarterback. Ray Niro returns after coming off a year in which he completed 92 of 143 passes for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Niro is even more dangerous when he runs the read option. He gained 1,402 yards on 136 carries, with 17 of those for touchdowns.
"Obviously it's always nice to have your quarterback returning with experience," Sanchez said. "If there is one thing that happens on the offensive side, it is that he has his hands on the ball on every play."
The Broncos will need to replace Logan Moews and his 1,458 yards and 22 touchdowns at running back. Sanchez will look at Ethan Glowacki and Michael Curran at that spot this year.
Only Brad Warman (6-1, 255) returns from the "Plowboys" offensive line of last season. He will be joined by Alec Meister (6-2, 245) and Geoff Frenk (6-0, 225), who both got reps last year. Brendan Carpizo (6-0, 220), Sam Butera (6-0, 250) and Jorge Gavina (5-10, 235) will also be in the mix.
"Obviously last year's group was special," Sanchez said. "This group coming up will do things differently. But I feel really confident in this group we have."
The wide receiver corps also a pair of players who contributed last year. Alec Andrea, Jake Parsons and Luis Cossio (the 400-meter state champion), are all back. Johnny Gage, Nick Bogartz, Brad Koenig and EJ Darlington will provide some depth at the position.
Defensively, the Broncos struggled at times last season. They look to turn things around this year with a hungry crop of players.
"Playing Maine South and Palatine in two of our last three games, they were some pretty prolific offenses," Sanchez said. "I don't think there were very many people that slowed those guys down. But that being said, I feel real good about this group. I think the strength of our team will be on our defensive line."
That line is led by Michael Stodola, a returner. Luke Goodwin, Alec Gibas, Josh Goukos and Brendan Gould will fill out the front.
Mikey Owsley, Mark Di Iorio, Steve Latimer and Jake Meyer are all seniors and will be rotating in at linebacker.
Andrea and Grant Leichter return to the defensive back field. Connor Abel and Sam Sheedy round out that group.
"Our schedule is tough, and we step right into the teeth of it with Warren," Sanchez said. "We will find out right away how we are going to look."