Scouting the St. Charles East Saints
There is a certain newness that comes to the start of every high school football season.
At St. Charles East, that feeling is even more evident this season.
In addition to joining the rugged 8-team DuKane Conference for its inaugural season, the Saints feature a new look with the installation of their artificial turf field at Norris Stadium -- part of a 5-year plan to renovate the 40-year-old school's athletic facilities.
While they will have to wait until the third week of the regular season (Sept. 7 against Glenbard North) for their home field debut, the Saints are looking forward to their new digs.
"They've done a great job with the new field -- it looks great," said Saints coach Bryce Farquhar, who brings a 27-14 record into his fifth season at the helm. "Everyone is excited to get on the field."
St. Charles East will be joined by defending Class 7A state champion Batavia, St. Charles North, Lake Park, Glenbard North, Wheaton North, Geneva and Wheaton Warrenville South in the hunt for the first DuKane Conference championship.
Six of the eight schools -- St. Charles East, Batavia, Glenbard North, Lake Park, St. Charles North and Wheaton North -- qualified for postseason play a year ago, a feat that may be difficult to repeat.
"There are no breaks -- that's for sure," said Farquhar.
The Saints have some big holes to fill with the graduation loss of Upstate Eight River Division Defensive Player of the Year Abe Swanson (Grand Valley State), who collected 88 solo tackles and 51 assists last season, RB-DB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota State), QB-DB Clayton Isbell (Illinois State), LB Nico Piaskowy (Aurora), DB Yalon Rogers (North Central), and DE Pat Griffin, among others.
"We graduated a lot of leadership defensively," said Farquhar. "We're looking for some people to step up."
Farquhar is counting on big things from senior defensive returnees Jalen Farmer (DL), Robert Carne (ILB), Dillon Gearhart (OLB) and junior Clayton Conn (CB).
"Dillon can play," said the coach. "He's a next-level type player."
Juniors Nick Schumann (LB), Cody Cotteleer (LB) and Hampshire move-in Jimmy Ellis (DB) figure to solidify a defense that allowed just 9 points per game last season.
"Our junior class is pretty talented," said Farquhar.
Offensively, the Saints welcome the return of senior workhorse running back Justin Jett, who ran for 1,306 yards and 18 touchdowns while helping lead the team to an 8-3 record a year ago.
"He'll be a four-year varsity player for us," said Farquhar.
Junior B.J. Crossen, who started 4 games at quarterback due to Isbell's midseason ankle injury, is back to guide the Saints' triple-option attack, flanked by Jett, senior Ronan Macaluso, junior Colton Conn and Ellis.
They'll run behind a veteran offensive line anchored by 6-5, 290-pound junior guard Dylan Barrett, 6-3, 275-pound senior tackle Justin Hull, and 6-4, 265-pound junior guard Alex Cox.
Senior Anthony DiGiulio and juniors Eduardo Mancera and Xander Song are battling for the other O-line spots, while senior Dan Goetsch and junior Nate Hull lead the receiving corps.
"We want to win every week but our main focus is to make the playoffs," said Farquhar.