Scouting the Downers Grove South Mustangs
Now that Downers Grove South boasts a bunch of playmakers, the Mustangs will take full advantage.
It means more two-way play than typically experienced at the Class 8A school and a learning experience for players and coaches alike.
"It's not something we've done in the past too much," coach Mark Molinari said. "It's pretty taxing. We're still learning how to practice that way and prepare for games. It's not perfect, but that's how we have to do things now."
A 55-player roster is pretty small by program standards, but Molinari believes it's a quality 55.
Jayden Lambert could play anywhere. Last year he rushed for 494 yards, threw for 99 and caught two passes. George Ross stabilizes the quarterback spot after starting last year due to injury, but Lambert might be seen there, at running back or receiver.
Lambert is so valuable to the offense that Molinari hopes to use him sparingly on defense.
"He's a force that teams have to deal with," Molinari said. "He's an explosive athlete."
Jaelynn Blecke is another explosive athlete who will play on both sides of the ball with Kyle Heavey and Vinny Provenzano in the secondary. Standout linemen Shawn Lee and Kendall Burrow also will play both ways.
Lee, Burrow and Max Foster anchor a strong offensive line. Kenton Johnson and sophomore Devean Washington will be the main running backs.
The defense, which last season notched three straight shutouts, took a hit with the graduation of all-state lineman Sergio Villalobos. The Mustangs remain dangerous up front thanks to Ali Issa's return for a third starting season.
Even with the large number of two-way players, the Mustangs have the talent to claim the West Suburban Gold title for the first time since 2013.
"I hate to say this at Downers Grove South, but I'd say we're underdogs this year," Molinari said. "We have legitimate playmakers who can make it happen."
One to watch: Will the Gold title hang in the balance when the Mustangs face Willowbrook in Week 9?
Coach: Mark Molinari (sixth year, 20-25).
2017 record: 4-5, 4-2, tied for second in West Suburban Gold.
Top players: Jayden Lambert (WR-RB-QB, 6-1, 160, jr.), Jaelynn Blecke (WR-DB, 6-2, 195, sr.), Shawn Lee (OL-DL, 6-3, 290, jr.), George Ross (QB, 6-1, 205, sr.), Max Foster (OL, 6-2, 250, sr.), Ali Issa (DL-TE, 6-2, 200, sr.), Devean Washington (RB-DB, 6-0, 165, so.), Kendall Burrow (DL, 6-3, 250, sr.), Kenton Johnson (RB, 5-10, 195, sr.), Keegan Garland (LB, 6-1, 200, sr.), Kyle Heavey (WR-DB, 6-0, 175, sr.), Vinny Provenzano (WR, 5-9, 170, sr.).
-- Kevin Schmit
Downers Grove South
Fri, 8/24, Downers Grove South at Bolingbrook, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 8/31, Oak Park-River Forest at Downers Grove South, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/8, Downers Grove South at Proviso East, 1 p.m.
Fri, 9/14, Downers Grove South at Hinsdale South, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/21, Addison Trail at Downers Grove South, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/28, Downers Grove South at Morton, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/5, Leyden at Downers Grove South, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/12, Downers Grove South at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/19, Willowbrook at Downers Grove South, 7:30 p.m.