Titans hope landmark 2021 turned the corner for the program
Coming off his team's deepest playoff run since 2009, Glenbrook South football coach Dave Schoenwetter seeks to further develop the Titans into a true program.
One that annually rolls a wave of seniors into starting roles to replace the graduated veterans; a team that consistently brings high expectations, then backs them up.
It never hurts to have varsity experience as well, and Glenbrook South returns 11 starting positions from the 2021 team that went 9-3 and reached the Class 8A quarterfinals. All of the returning starters are seniors.
"I'm excited about the things that all these seniors can do," said Schoenwetter, a 1994 Glenbrook South graduate who played quarterback for his father, former Titans coach Bob Schoenwetter.
"I'm pretty confident that we're going to have a strong defensive group," he said. "There's a lot of experience coming back there, and I feel we'll be a physical, assignment-sound defense. Offensively, I think our initial strength is going to be our offensive line."
The defense returns at least two starters at each of the three levels - up front with linemen Patrick Downing, Drew Duffy and Jacque Gariepy; linebackers Hank Leahy and Alex Pappas; and defensive backs Chuck Gottfred and Tommy MacPherson.
MacPherson, who intercepted 6 passes last season, and Gariepy each were named to the Central Suburban League South all-conference team in 2021. Gariepy and Downing made 3.5 and 2.5 quarterback sacks, respectively.
Downing, Gariepy, Gottfred and MacPherson all ranked among the Titans' top seven tacklers last season.
Fellow seniors Luke Marino, Jonathan DuMars and Jack Haravon also figure in the mix.
Offensively good things start up front with center Nick Brattleaf and guards Duffy and Johnny Rolfes resuming starting roles. Duffy, senior class president, was a 2021 all-conference selection, mobile, great on trap blocks, a wrestler's knowledge of leverage.
Gottfred was somewhat of a secret weapon last season offensively, leading the Titans with 224 yards receiving and 3 touchdown catches. He averaged 25 yards a reception.
New starting quarterback Hunter Kreske, a 6-foot, 175-pound senior, will target what Schoenwetter believes is a strong corps of receivers. They include Gariepy at tight end, just about a prototype for the high school position at 6-3, 220 pounds; fellow two-way players MacPherson and Marino; and 6-3, 185-pound wideout Griffin Dahiya, out last season with an injury.
"We've got to prove we can get them the football, which will help us in the run game, which we feel confident about at this time," Schoenwetter said.
Part of developing as a program is replacing stars who graduated. Last fall Tommy Corbett was an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State selection on the defensive line. A pair of graduated running backs who probably could have earned that designation, Will Collins and Nick Burda combined for 2,427 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns.
Between Gottfred and fullback Leahy with support from juniors Nate Canning and Dominick Rejkiewicz, Schoenwetter likes what he has in the offensive backfield.
"Even though our backfield is new, I think it's a talented group," Schoenwetter said.
It definitely helps having Brattleaf, Duffy and Rolfes returning. They, and their counterparts on the Titans defensive line, will do their best for a pair of veteran assistant coaches in their final seasons, offensive line coach Matt Johlie and defensive line coach Steve Stanicek.
"Both of them have been dedicated and a great part of the program, great guys to work with and great with the kids. I'm hoping for a great year for us and for them in their last year," Schoenwetter said.