Lincoln Way East Griffins
Coach: Rob Zvonar, 12th season.
Last year: 9-2 overall, 7-0 in the Southwest Suburban Blue.
Opener: Aug. 26 vs. Edwardsville at Illinois State University, Normal, 6 p.m.
Outlook: The Griffins have been consistently good and with plenty of talent returning, especially at the skill positions, and a solid mix of talent filling in holes created by graduation, they should again be a force in the difficult Southwest Suburban Blue. Although the conference has been tough, the Griffins have won or shared titles in six of the past nine seasons. Quarterback Blake Winkler (21 TD passes in 2010) gives the team a tremendous scoring weapon against any opponent.
Backs: You couldn’t have asked for more from Winkler last fall. As a junior, he threw for just under 2,000 yards and 21 TDs. He’s back for his senior season to pace the Griffins. He’ll have a familiar face in Tyler Starke (team’s second-leading rusher in 2010 with more than 500 yards) in the backfield, while Blake Anders, Dave Mahl, Nick Colangelo and Justin Corbett are all capable running backs. It’ll be interesting to keep track if they have a balanced attack or if one or two backs emerge for Lincoln-Way East.
Tight ends/receivers: Winkler has at least two exceptional receivers to air the ball out to, including J.J. Robertson, who led the Griffins last fall with 25 catches, 567 yards and seven TDs. Perhaps as dangerous to opponents could be the 6-foot-4 Jay Yancy.
Line: No one’s under 250 pounds on the offensive line. Alex Hern (6-2, 265), Frank Toland (6-3, 265), Dan Patteson (5-10, 295), Josh Bottoms (5-10, 250) and sophomore Nick Allegretti (6-3, 260) are the five players who are expected to protect Winkler and provide holes for Starke and the rest of the backs.
Placekicker: Senior William Will has earned the job.
Linebackers: Zvonar’s excited to see competition for positions and he’s got at least five players battling for playing time at linebacker. Senior Jake Aleck and a strong group of juniors, Adam O’Grady, Garret Haug, Kyle Langenderfer and Mitch Murphy, will look to rise to the occasion.
Line: Kevin Bayer, Matt Solner, Joel Magrum, Adam Hould and Mike Stachowicz will look to cause some chaos this fall. Hould and Stachowicz are juniors, while the other three are seniors.
Secondary: There’s competition with the defensive backs as well. Kevin Duffin, Nate Royer, Kevin Slawkowski, Erik Stanek, Nick Stuglis and Joe Tomasik all have outstanding potential.
Punter: Senior Sean Sheetz will punt for the Griffins.
Coach Rob Zvonar said: The season will be a success if “we can get significant offensive possessions and not keep our defense on the field too long. I think we have an explosive offense, so we need to get them on the field as often as we can to let them do their thing. We have a lot of skill at quarterback and the offensive skill positions, but an unheralded offensive line that graduated five starters. There’s nice competition for positions, and we’re excited, cautiously optimistic.”