Scouting the Rolling Meadows Mustangs
There have been some near misses for Rolling Meadows in its quest to get to the program's first-ever state championship game.
But while they continue to have their sights on a trip to state, the Mustangs know that every team on their schedule has its sights firmly set on them.
Especially in the Mid-Suburban League East, Rolling Meadows has that proverbial target on its back.
The Mustangs have won six of the last seven MSL East championships.
"Everyone is looking to put us in our place. That target is on our back," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. "But our guys are ready for the challenge."
The Mustangs are also ready for challenges beyond conference play.
"Our players do a good job of carrying over expectations from year to year," Mishler said. "It's really good to win the MSL East. But we also want to make a run at a state championship. We've been to the quarters. We've gotten to the semis in our program. We haven't been able to get to the state championship and that's something our guys really want."
Rolling Meadows cruised through last season with a perfect 9-0 regular season record before finishing with a 10-1 record after a loss in the second round.
Mishler says that many of the Mustangs' games last season were lopsided by halftime and that his starters were often subbed out for the second half. At least six or seven of the first eight games last season fell into that category.
There are 10 starters from that dominating group that return, four on offense and six on defense.
The offense is led by two linemen in Tommy Schell and Nate Pedraza, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound right tackle who has committed to Ball State.
Tight end Sean Nolan and slot back Jordan Wiles also returns.
Quarterback Carson Schiller takes over after spending last year as the backup, but he ended up getting an unusual number of reps for a backup due to all of the Mustangs' blowouts.
"He got in a lot of games and he knows the offense backwards and forwards," Mishler said of Schiller. "He's a real competitor. He's a combo quarterback. He probably runs a little better than he throws, but we will definitely do both."
Schiller will share the backfield with two new running backs: Chris DiVito and Noah Wilson. DiVito got a lot of reps last year as a backup who played most of those blowout second halves.
Meanwhile, Rolling Meadows has a few new dangerous wide receivers for Schiller to target: Nifi Oseni, Jimmy Golaris and Daniel Sobkowicz.
Defensively, the six starters that return are Pedraza and Jose Aleman on the line, linebackers Sean Nolan and DiVito and Jordan Wiles and Nife Oseni in the backfield.
Mishler says that 6-foot-4 David Ziba could also be an impact player at safety.
"When you come off a season like we had last year, it's always interesting to see how the next team will pick that up," Mishler said. "The ride was fantastic last year, surreal at times. It was a great team of good guys who were talented players who did their jobs. I think this team can be very much like that."