Scouting Schaumburg: Skills surplus thrills Saxons
There's no denying that Schaumburg has the skills.
Schaumburg returns 12 starters, with most of them in the skill positions as the Saxons look to improve on their 5-5 season from a year ago.
And coach Mark Stilling says those players, all of whom were juniors last season, have matured quite nicely.
"We have a lot of experience back in the skill positions," Stilling said. "It just changes things."
Heze Trotter, who has been a starter since he was inserted into the defensive backfield in the playoffs in his freshman year, epitomizes skill. Trotter is a game-changer on offense, where he plays wingback, and on defense, where he roams the secondary. He's also been a force as a returner.
"Every time you turn around he is doing something you never saw him do before," Stilling said. "He is just an extremely talented individual."
Trotter will be joined by Shamaree Brown, Andy Ayala, Julian Rodriguez, who are all seniors. Junior Isaiah Garcia and sophomores Luke Jessie and Tyler Fortune will also be key factors.
Marcus Ross, who orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback against Conant and started the last four games of last season, is back. Ross threw for nearly 400 yards and 7 TDs.
Mike Digioia split time at running back last season as a freshman. He finished with nearly 250 yards and should carry most of the load this year.
"The trick is going to be to find ways to distribute the football," Stilling said.
The offensive line of Michael Dan, Allen Oaknovic, Dane McMahon, Joe Parra, Brandon Schweigert, Joel Routhowski and Cameron Davis is relatively inexperienced. Dan, who played in the final four games of the season for the Saxons last year, is the only player that has seen any game time. But Stilling is encouraged by their progress.
"The offensive line has made some nice strides throughout the summer," Stilling said. "They have done a very good job of meshing together. Our leadership from the guys who do have some experience has been very helpful."
The Saxons' defense has seven starters back.
Along with Trotter, Jamari McIntyre and Tony Rofrano, who is moving from offense, each return at defensive back. Andy Ayala and Connor Casamento-Barry, who both started every game last year, will return at linebacker. And Routhowski and Joseph Jamison are back at defensive end.
Jose Rodriguez, Alvaro Esparza and Jeremy Serio will also play on the defensive line. Frankie Zepead and sophomore Blake Buchana will be at linebacker, and DiGioia and Anthony Hernandez, who is a sophomore, will be at defensive back.
The Saxons also return kicker Johnny Mueller.
Schaumburg has been working without a practice field this preseason while their football stadium is under reconstruction. That is scheduled to be completed at the end of August, long before the Saxons' home opener in week 4.
Meanwhile, Schaumburg has been practicing at Conant, Hoffman Estates and on the turf fields at the Schaumburg Park District.
"Our practice scheduling has been interesting to say the least," Stilling said. "We are making the best of the situation."
Stilling said he likes what his team is becoming.
"I think we have a chance to be extremely competitive," he said. "For us, it is not worry about anyone else but us. I think we have the people there to be very physical."