Hersey's receivers create difficult problems to solve
Positionless football, Hersey coach Tom Nelson calls it.
It's a strategy that's helped the Huskies go 9-0 and average 45 points a game behind receivers such as Carson Grove, tight end Logan Farrell and versatile Chuck Meister.
"Even though they're classified as a running back or a wide receiver or tight end, I think if you looked at our offense they're kind of playing all over, which I think is really important especially if you want to dictate who gets the ball and what space you want to dictate him in, what formation you want to put the defense in," Nelson said.
The victory formation has been popular at Roland R. Goins Stadium in Arlington Heights, where Hersey capped its perfect regular season Oct. 20 with a 63-14 win over Elk Grove.
A large early lead negated the need for the full arsenal. Still, tight end Farrell led Hersey with 53 yards receiving, Grove caught his 14th touchdown pass, and Meister -- whom Nelson called a "Swiss Army knife" for his versatility -- scored on a 21-yard run.
Entering Saturday's Class 7A playoff opener against Wheaton Warrenville South, Grove is 36 yards from Kacper Rutkiewicz's single-season program record of 1,247 yards receiving.
A 2022 Illinois High School Football Coaches Association 7A All-State pick, the speedy senior wideout is committed to Northwestern. He's fast and has a knack for finding soft spots in a defense.
"Tom does a great job getting the ball to his top athletes, which is really nice that he can do that," Grove said. "He's getting the ball to me, Logan, all his skill players that can do a lot of things in space."
With 54 receptions and just 1 drop, Grove also has 2 rushing touchdowns and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Farrell against Buffalo Grove. Grove caught 4 touchdown passes and returned a punt 49 yards for a score against Wheeling.
Grove praises junior quarterback Colton Gumino, who's thrown for 23 touchdowns to 3 interceptions; 1,100-yard running back Nasir McKenzie; and Hersey offensive linemen Will Nolan, Pavle Jovanovic, Andrew Pignataro, Sal Marabotti and Gus Dammann.
"When Nasir is doing good (defenses) focus on Nasir, then we're able to throw it over the top, which is really nice," Grove said. "Colton is doing a great job this year, I give him a lot of credit. Same with the O-line for holding up on those play-action passes, which is where we get a lot of our yards."
Listed at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds and owning nine reported scholarship offers, Farrell lines up at tight end, fullback and H-back. He's caught 24 passes for 387 yards, 7 touchdowns this season.
Nelson said, "He's a big human that can move very fast."
In youth football Farrell was too big to go outside the tackle box. With the reins off he gets to "stick my head into people's faces" and also catch the football.
"It's like the best of both worlds," he said.
The Swiss Army knife, junior Chuck Meister, is listed as a running back but also will play H-back or split out to join senior receivers Grove, Reese Settersten and Noah Loch.
The type of guy who prefers to run over a defender than around him, Meister has run for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 10 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown.
"Our offensive line, me and Logan blocking, and the quarterback giving us the ball, it's working out pretty good so far," Meister said.