High School Football Preview: Marquette returns with confidence, talent
Confidence won't be in short supply for Marquette this season.
The assurance is built on a great run of success – the Crusader program has averaged almost 11 wins per year over the last four seasons and made the Class 1A state semis in 2015 – as well as successfully going through the fire of tight ballgames last season. During the team’s stellar 13-1 season, the Crusaders won five games decided by a touchdown or less.
“It's not cockiness,” head coach Tom Jobst told the Illinois Valley Times. “The kids are just confident. They come out, and they know what they're doing, and they enjoy doing it.”
This year's version of the Crusaders includes several starters on both sides of the ball back from last year's Northeastern Conference championship squad. That includes several players who earned league honors in 2015.
Jobst said the squad has a good combination of size, speed and strength going into the season, and the schemes remain the same. But it remains to be seen how the 2016 Crusaders will stack up to last year's squad.
“We're going to have to wait to see how it shakes out,” Jobst said. “Every team has its own personality.”
Five players who received All-Northern Illinois Big 12 honors in 2015 are back this season for the Cavaliers, who went 3-6 last season.
“We will have a sold passing game again this year,” head coach Jose Medina told the Times. “Our quarterback and receivers work great together and will continue to thrive this season. We hope to have an improved run game this year as well, as we have many returners to our line.”
ST. BEDE ACADEMY
The Bruins will have eight returning starters on offense and defense and 14 lettermen overall back from last season.
St. Bede, which went 4-5 in 2015, will again be led on offense by quarterback Bryant Eustice, who had 1,200 passing yards last season. He'll again be throwing to Braidy Shipp, who is the school's all-time leading receiver and will be a four-year starter.
The Fighting Irish go into the season with 15 returning lettermen. Last year, Seneca went 2-7 overall and 1-4 in the Interstate Eight (Small) Conference.
"With a small number of seniors on this year’s team, we hope to compete well in a tough conference.,” head coach Ted O'Boyle told the Times. “We will rely heavily on our team speed to make things happen."
The Red Devils went 9-3 last season and made it to the Class 2A quarterfinals, entering this season with three starters back on offense and defense and eight lettermen back overall.
Head coach Randy Tieman told the Times that the team’s biggest strength is speed this year.
“We are expecting our kids to show up every day and work as hard as they can to improve and to trust in our system and each other,”Tieman said. “If they can do that, they will have success.”