Scouting the West Chicago Wildcats
West Chicago coach Ted Monken believes the Wildcats can position themselves for success.
"We have a lot of mature kids that know what they're doing, that's a strength. I think we have a chance to move the ball a little better this year and manage that clock, keep the defense fresh and have meaningful minutes in the fourth quarter," Monken said.
Monken has been impressed by the offensive line captained by senior Noah Kotke.
"They're just doing a nice job coming off the ball and executing their assignments," Monken said. "I feel like they're going to be a much-improved unit."
If they provide holes, the triple-option offense has some experience and speed. Returner Frank Aniello averaged 5 yards a carry and scored 3 touchdowns in limited reps. Jeremy Grant averaged 3.8 yards a carry while finishing third on last year's squad with 47 tackles at linebacker.
C.J. Griffin mainly impacted at free safety last season but will also bring sprinter's speed to the offensive side. Receiver Jahleel Humphrey averaged 18 yards a catch also in limited reps there.
The versatile Griffin was competing for the quarterback spot with senior Jeff Zajac, who was the sophomore quarterback two years ago but focused on baseball as a junior.
"He's done a real nice job this year," Monken said of Zajac.
The coach also sees more speed and experience in the 4-3 defense's secondary, but to him the big thing is being in the right spots.
"If we take care of our jobs and take care of our responsibilities we could be a solid football team," he said. "If not it's going to be a rough year. It's more about us than it's about our opponent."
-- Dave Oberhelman
One to watch: Week 1 at Wheaton Academy provides West Chicago a crack at revenge and to see where they're at.
Coach: Ted Monken (fourth year, 5-22; 11th year overall, 46-52).
2016 record: 1-8, 1-4, fifth in the Upstate Eight Valley.
Top players: Frank Aniello (RB-LB, 5-10, 170, sr.), C.J. Griffin (QB-RB-DB, 6-2, 170, sr.), Jeremy Grant (RB-LB, 6-0, 200, jr.), Jahleel Humphrey (WR-LB, 6-0, 200, sr., Noah Kotke (OL-LB, 6-1, 220, sr.), Mike Wagner (WR-DE, 6-4, 180, jr.), Jeff Zajac (QB-FS, 6-1, 165, sr.).
Fri, 8/25, West Chicago at Wheaton Academy, 7:15 p.m.
Fri, 9/1, Elgin at West Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/8, West Chicago at Bartlett, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/15, Larkin at West Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/22, West Chicago at East Aurora, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/29, South Elgin at West Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/6, West Chicago at West Aurora, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/13, Glenbard East at West Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/20, West Chicago at Crystal Lake South, 7 p.m.