Scouting the Jacobs Golden Eagles
Jacobs won three of four games to open last season but a slew of season-ending injuries at key positions derailed the playoff express.
After finishing 3-6 and missing the playoffs for only the second time in coach Bill Mitz's nine seasons at the Algonquin school, the Golden Eagles are determined to return to postseason football come November.
"We have a definite chip on our shoulder," Mitz said. "The players, the staff, we were not happy with the way things turned out last year but, hey, that's the way it happened. We're ready to get back to doing what we do."
The offense is experienced at the skill positions. Quarterback Cole Bhardwaj, A 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior, became the starter with a few games left in the season after first-stringer Anthony Wilson went down with a knee injury. He threw for over 600 yards and 8 touchdowns.
The offense returns a proven ground gainer in senior running back Jacob Mobeck. Also returning is Nasir Canty, a dynamic 6-foot-2, 215-pound sophomore who made an impression in a 64-60 season-ending loss at Crystal Lake Central when he rushed for 150 yards and 3 touchdowns on 12 carries. Mitz said Canty "has unlimited potential and he's learning how to work hard." Canty can also catch the ball out of the backfield and will see time at linebacker in passing situations.
Bhardwaj returns key targets in 6-foot-3 senior tight end RJ Anderson, a three-year starter, and wide receiver Max Stec, a 6-2 junior whose first varsity season ended prematurely due to injury.
How successful those experienced skill-position players become will depend on the blocking in front of them. Jacobs has a completely revamped offensive line, anchored by center George Trojanek (6-1, 245), a starting defensive end a year ago who now plays both ways. He is flanked by sophomore right guard Joe Volenec (6-1, 225), junior right tackle Ben Lubeley, senior left guard Mike Wasilewski (6-1, 210) and junior left tackle Antonio Carlos (6-2, 285).
"How they progress is going to determine how our season goes because we have a good quarterback, good running backs and good wide receivers," Mitz said. "If they can protect and create some holes, we can really get it going."
The defense returns Trojanek at end, junior inside linebackers (and wrestlers) Aidan Roberts (5-8, 183) and Ryan Golnick (6-2, 220) and third-year starting safety Travis Tanner.
Others stepping into starting roles include senior cornerback Nick Agenllian, 6-3 junior corner Matt Lodi, outside linebacker Shane Waychoff, senior lineman Seth Hoy, sophomore lineman Dylann Martinez and senior lineman Jake Spychala, who saw playing time last year.
"It's a good group that runs the to the ball well," Mitz said. "We want them to play physical defense but, like everyone else, we've only been playing touch football up until last Saturday. I'm excited to see how they play."
The only 2018 playoff qualifier Jacobs faces in the first five weeks is Huntley, so getting off to a good start like last year is important.
"It's huge for us to get out of the blocks," Mitz said.