Scouting Rolling Meadows: No predictions, but expect Mustangs to live in the moment
Every year, Rolling Meadows football coach Matt Mishler refuses to predict how his Mustangs will fare in the upcoming season.
"It is the same as it is every year," Mishler said. "I am not much into prognostication."
Fair enough -- but the coach's record speaks for itself.
During his seven-year run as head coach, Rolling Meadows has qualified for the playoffs in each season. They have won the MSL East five times, finally having their string broken by Hersey last year.
So, if there was a betting person out there, playoffs and a shot at the conference title might be worth the wager.
But not for Mishler.
"I am just looking for holes to fill," Mishler said. "The same as I do every season at this time. I am looking at the seniors who played last year and the juniors who are coming up. I am getting our guys who have experience to take that next step."
Meadows has 65 players out for the squad this season, which should give the Mustangs some depth.
Mishler says depth and a surplus of experience on defense is a great start for his teams.
"Our defense always puts us in position to win the games," Mishler said. "I think they have the opportunity to be as good as they want. It just depends on trajectory, but they have been looking better every day."
The Mustangs have a solid front seven led by junior Nate Pedraza, who has been attracting next-level attention with his play. Dylan Wagner and Jose Aleman also will be up front.
The linebacking corps, all seniors, will be another key to the Mustangs' defense. Max Salhani and Kevin Faghir both return to play inside while a very athletic Jace O'Hara returns to the outside with Sean Nolan.
"We are going to play multiple fronts," Mishler said. "And I am really excited about our front seven. I am looking forward to watching them play."
The defensive backfield will also have some experience returning. Jordan Wiles and Charlie Svoboda will be at corners while TJ Williams and junior Nife Oseni, who is a junior and highly touted by Mishler, will be at safety.
Offensively, the Mustangs return their quarterback in Arek Kleniuk, who threw for nearly 1,500 yards last season, along with running back Timmy Szylak, who rushed for over 800 yards last season, and O'Hara.
The wide receiver group is sharp with Justin Kretz, Kacper Lesniak, Jimmy Golaris, Svoboda and Williams. The Mustangs also like to use their tight ends with Dominick Storniolo, Faghir and Nolan.
The offensive line returns just two starters in senior guards Joe Boyer and Johnny Carlstrom. Andy Baroota and Josh De Luca, who are also seniors, will be joined by junior Tommy Schell.
"We lost some guys last year on the offensive line, so we need some guys to step up," Mishler said. "But I think they will be ready to play."
Rolling Meadows, which is pretty much locked in as a 7A school, has qualified for the playoffs in 14 of the last 15 years. The Mustangs open their season this year with a pair of tough 8A teams in Glenbrook South and Palatine.
Just don't ask Mishler for a prediction.
"That's not for me," Mishler said. "We just want our kids to be ready to play football."