Scouting the St. Charles North North Stars
Anyone expecting a drop off for St. Charles North football on the heels of the best season in program history should know the North Stars have other plans.
Area player of the year Tyler Nubin, a difference maker throughout North's 2018 Class 7A runner-up season, now plays for Minnesota. Nevertheless, the talent returning has coach Rob Pomazak optimistic heading into the Aug. 30 season opener at Palatine.
"I walked out of our overnight camp at NIU with a great feeling about who this team is," the seventh-year coach said. "It's going to be a real good challenge for us to sustain what we've built so far, but this team is big up front, athletic on the perimeter and we have a super great defense. I'm excited about the group coming back. It's a deep team and I think we're going to surprise."
Last year's season-ending injuries to a couple of key players leave the North Stars better prepared for the coming campaign than they otherwise might have been. Returning senior quarterback Kyler Brown became the starter after his older brother, Peyton, was injured in Week 2. Similarly, returning junior running back Nick DeMarco stepped into a starting role when his older brother, Sam, was lost for the season in Week 7.
Kyler Brown ended up throwing for 1,715 yards and 16 touchdowns on 113-of-202 passing (56%). Nick DeMarco rushed for 851 yards and 5 touchdowns in 156 attempts. Both were also key players in the St. Charles North baseball team's second-place finish in Joliet last June. DeMarco is committed to play baseball at Notre Dame.
"You can't put a price on that kind of experience," Pomazak said. "I think Kyler's leadership was such an integral part of why both baseball and football were able to get to the next level. He is light years ahead of where he was last year. It's not even comparable."
DeMarco won't be a one-man gang in the backfield since the offense has "the best running back group we've had in a long time as far as depth and ability," his coach said. That group includes elusive open-field rusher Josh Bridges, junior Marco Torres and returning team co-captain Ben Furtney, who Pomazak expects "will have a breakout season," while also starting at outside linebacker.
The receiving corps includes sure-handed junior Ryan Doherty, vertical threat, and junior slot receiver Jimmy Durocher.
Returnees on the offensive line include senior center Matthew Fell (6-1, 200), who Pomazak calls "the brains of the operation" and junior guard Carmine Bastone (6-2, 235). They are joined by imposing juniors Ian Erickson (6-5, 265) and Corey Krueger (6-6, 285). Senior Dylan Horvath, a role player last year, "has emerged," said his coach, who counted eight linemen in the mix for playing time.
The defense is headed by Furtney, a third-year starting outside linebacker. He led the North Stars with 6.8 tackles per game, recorded 7 sacks and nabbed an interception. Inside linebacker Zach McClure, whose first varsity season ended in Week 4 due to injury, is a Division I prospect, according to his coach.
Also back is aggressive senior lineman DJ Oshin (6-1, 240) who tends to beat opponents off the ball regardless of where he lines up.
Senior strong safety Ryan Thiesse, a three-year starter, anchors the secondary. He notched a team-best 3 interceptions a year ago. Junior Jordan Nubin will play cornerback. DeMarco is expected to split time with Durocher at the other corner. Senior Joe Policano plays free safety.
Pomazak believes this team can challenge for DuKane Conference supremacy and make another deep playoff push.
"We always like to play with a chip on our shoulder and have something to prove," Pomazak said. "People call what we did last year a run. For us it was always part of the plan. We want to prove we belong there. We want to get back to that level."