We’re barely more than a month away from kickoff of the 2014 prep football season.
As teams wind down their summer camps, here is a sampling of some of the central questions area teams must answer as official preseason practice looms Aug. 11 ahead of opening night on Aug. 29.
Batavia: Which of Batavia’s skill players will emerge?
The Bulldogs’ most glaring graduation losses from last year’s IHSA Class 6A state championship team came at quarterback, running back and receiver. There’s little doubt the Bulldogs’ offensive line is again going to be a load – a wonderful starting point for any offense – and the Bulldogs also boast several intimidating presences on defense. But if Batavia is going to remain among the state’s elite, some fresh faces at the marquee positions are going to need to assert themselves.
Geneva: Can the Vikings’ defense rise up?
Geneva’s offense hummed for much of the 2013 season, and there is little reason to think the touchdowns won’t pile up again this fall with Daniel Santacaterina, Pace Temple and Loudon Vollbrecht headlining an impressive mix of skill and brawn.
But when the Vikings’ program was at its strongest under veteran coach Rob Wicinski, Geneva’s defense was a worthy complement to the reliably potent offense. That hasn’t consistently been the case during the program’s current three-season dry spell without a playoff win. But with potential impact defensive players such as Stephen Kemp, Matt Loberg and Wyatt Shodeen back to lead the charge, this could be the Vikings’ most complete team in a while.
Kaneland: Is this the year the Knights’ program finally comes down to earth?
Kaneland’s program has stacked Ws in remarkable fashion under coach Tom Fedderly, going 43-5 in the past four seasons.
But the Knights absorbed as many key graduation losses as any team in the area, and it’s tough to envision Kaneland being quite as dominant this fall.
That said, the Knights have earned the benefit of the doubt, and a manageable early schedule should buy Kaneland time to work out the kinks before conference play arrives.
St. Charles East: Can another Saints coach hit the ground running?
Former East coach Mike Fields had his best season with the Saints in his first year on the job, and new coach Bryce Farquhar would love to bottle some of that Year 1 mojo. But with a new quarterback to break in and the graduation of two-way standout Brannon Barry, expectations – at least on the outside – figure to be tempered this season for a Saints team that has struggled against the Upstate Eight Conference River’s upper echelon in recent years.
St. Charles North: Will faster be better for North’s offense?
The North Stars are planning a swift offensive tempo this season as North looks to improve on all fronts after a 5-4 season wasn’t enough to crack the postseason in coach Rob Pomazak’s debut season.
Regardless of how quickly the North Stars break the huddle – if they huddle at all – any offensive strides will need to involve retooling up front for a new-look offensive line that must carry on without graduated standouts such as Chase Gianacakos and Camden Cotter.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.