Scouting the Metea Valley Mustangs
Metea Valley junior running back Colin Wilcox is the fourth Wilcox boy to play for the team. He's a younger brother of former Mustangs rushing record-setter Cameron Wilcox, Class of 2013.
We note this partially because Metea coach Ben Kleinhans is feeling a throwback vibe.
"I feel like athletically we can really match up," he said. "I think we're getting back to that explosive, athletic style."
Defensively, that's embodied in Julian Wlodarczyk, headed for Football College Subdivision dynasty North Dakota State. As Kleinhans said, he's big enough to play linebacker, fast enough to play receiver.
Metea returns its 2017 tackles leader, Jack Belskis, 69 stops and 7 for loss. He joins several top tacklers, like Conor Murphy, Garrett Ruden and Amarian Wilborn, who picked off two passes as a junior.
"We played a lot of juniors and sophomores last year so we've got a lot coming back and we hope it pays off for us this year," Kleinhans said.
Several key offensive players return, including senior linemen Matthew Vodden and Cameron Velasquez.
Jio Martinez will take handoffs along with Wilcox. Martinez ran for 408 yards in 2017, allowing former running back Nolan Falk to shift to linebacker this year. Tight end Austin Frederick caught 20 passes for 222 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Quarterback Patrick Straub got reps late last season subbing for injured starter Garrett Despot. Kleinhans likes the junior's makeup.
"He just showed that the moment was not too big for him when he was a sophomore," the coach said.
Kleinhans' goal is to make that type of poise contagious.
"We're trying to have a tougher mentality," Kleinhans said. "Just knowing the schedule we have to play, it's going to be difficult. We just have to hang in there."
One to watch: Coach Kleinhans seeks a crucial strong start Week 1 at WW South.
Coach: Ben Kleinhans (seventh year, 19-36).
2017 record: 1-8, 0-8, ninth in the DuPage Valley Conference.
Top players: Jack Belskis (LB, 6-2, 220, jr.), Seth Cotler (LB, 6-2, 170, sr.), Nolan Falk (LB, 5-10, 185, sr.), Austin Frederick (TE, 6-5, 210, jr.), Conor Murphy (DL, 6-3, 205, sr.), Alfred Pines (WR-DB, 5-8, 180, sr.), Patrick Straub (QB, 6-2, 175, jr.), Amarian Wilborn (WR-DB, 6-2, 160, sr.), Colin Wilcox (RB-DB, 5-8, 180, jr.), Julian Wlodarczyk (WR-DB, 6-3, 190, sr.).
-- Dave Oberhelman
Fri, 8/24, Metea Valley at Wheaton Warrenville South, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 8/31, Lake Park at Metea Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/7, DeKalb at Metea Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/14, Metea Valley at Naperville North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/21, Naperville Central at Metea Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/28, Metea Valley at Bradley-Bourbonnais, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/5, Naperville North at Metea Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/12, Metea Valley at Neuqua Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/19, Waubonsie Valley at Metea Valley, 7:30 p.m.