Scouting the Dundee-Crown Chargers
Dundee-Crown knocked on the playoff door last season but it did not open.
The Chargers won 4 games for the first time since their 6-win playoff season of 2013, highlighted by a 22-20 victory over Crystal Lake South, an eventual second-round playoff team. However, a 2-point loss in Week 7 at 3-win Crystal Lake Central blunted a postseason push.
Sixth-year coach Mike Steinhaus would like to see the program he played tight end for continue its forward momentum and take the next step.
"I'm hoping to compete with teams like we did last year," Steinhaus said. "We have a lot of guys back that were part of the program and kind of know what it takes. They saw the losses that hurt, like Crystal Lake Central, Huntley and Jacobs, and they worked through the off-season with those losses in the back of their mind. We're just trying to get our kids to understand they need to get better every day, that they need to compete as best as they can and as hard as they can."
Last season's prolific offense averaged 26.4 points per game, but the Chargers must replace quarterback Josh Raby (DuBuque), leading receiver Josh Hariston and leading rusher Ricky Ibarra, among others.
D-C does return three starting offensive linemen: senior left guard Anthony Fakhoury (5-8, 195), senior right guard Garrett Hansen (5-11, 200) and right tackle Enoch Brobbey (6-0, 220).
Another returning starter is tight end Justin Prusko, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior committed to Southeast Missouri State. His coach calls Prusko "raw" and said "he hasn't even scratched the surface of what he can do."
While Steinhaus said he is excited to see how Prusko performs this season, he sounded equally intrigued by junior running backs Amarie Jones (5-4, 132) and Shanquan Watson (5-7, 150), a duo he called "a pair of scat backs." Watson was the No. 3 rusher for the Chargers last year. He ran for 58 yards and a touchdown in a 70-55 loss to Prairie Ridge.
Steinhaus said the job of replacing Raby at quarterback would go to either senior Evan Echlin (6-2, 160) or junior Matt Ward (6-0, 200). Echlin, who his coach described as a good player but inexperienced, has not played much the last two years due to injury. Ward was the junior varsity quarterback last year as a sophomore.
They will throw the ball to Prusko and Alex Lopez, a 5-10, 160-pound receiver who averaged more than 20 yards per catch last season. His speed turned a swing pass into a long touchdown reception last season against Crystal Lake Central.
Steinhaus said he is excited about the 3-4, multiple-front defense, led by Fakhoury at inside linebacker. He said players like junior linebacker Jaylin Reese, senior Trevor Fed, Prusko and Lopez have made an impression in camp.
Is the collection of returning talent and new blood enough for Dundee-Crown football to make a playoff push?
"I believe in the pieces we have," Steinhaus said. "Others don't know a lot about our guys, but we think we can have some pretty good success like last year."