BIG NORTHERN WEST
Coach: Mark Helm
Last Year: 3rd Round Playoff Appearance 2A (9-4 OVERALL)
Bad News: Winnebago surprised many teams last year with an upset of Byron and was a team that contended for the conference title. They also made it to the third round of the playoffs. They do lost a good chunk of their receiving core in Jacoby Posley and Dered Polkowski.
Good News: Their rushing game is still intact and should be a force. Fred Mosby returns after rushing for 800 yards last year and also scored 11 TDS. QB Ryan Swigart also returns, and although working with new receivers, brings the experience of a 1000 passing yard season.
The Winnebago/Lutheran rivalry which has recently grown in basketball is also coming to fruition on the gridiron too and their September 27th meeting should be epic.
Coach: Jeff Boyer
Last Year: Big Northern West Co-Champs. 3A 1st Round Playoff Appearance (7-3 OVERALL)
Bad News: Byron was hit hard by graduation. 2400 rushing yards in Zack Pattat and Devin WIlliams have moved on. They also lost their QB Nate Elsbury. Time will tell if its a rebuild or reload situation.
Good News: It's Byron, and the team has a history of making it right. A stacked Big Northern West will test them.
Coach: Mike Lalor
Last Year: 1st Round Playoff Loss in Class 3A (7-4 OVERALL).
Bad News: Stillman graduated their QB and three out of four of the components of a rushing game that accounted for 2300 yards. Thats a pretty substantial hit to the pounding running game that Stillman puts on the field. Competition also rose with the addition of Lutheran into the Big Northern title mix, stacking the Big Northern and making it a competitive 4 team race at the top.
Good News: Leading rusher Zach Hare returns. Although they lost 3 other top rushers, Hare led with over 700 yards and led the team in rushing yards and also led in touchdowns with 15.
Coach: Bruce Baszali
Last Year: Big Northern West Co-Champs 2nd Round Playoff Appearance 2A (9-2 OVERALL)
Bad News: Lutheran will have to move up a class in the playoffs. They also lost the combination of QB Jake Milbourn and WR Tarence Robey who accounted for 800 of Milbourns passing yards and 9 of his 17 touchdown passes. They also lose 3rd receiver Brandon Esparza. The team will also face the multiplier this year and will probably end up in 3A or 4A come playoff time.
Good News: That was about ALL they lost on a team with plenty of outstanding underclassmen. Kendall Lawson steps in after waiting a year behind Milbourn and has big receivers like in Nate Wieting, Luke Anderson, and Austin Sikora, to toss the ball to. and fill the departing seniors shoes. And then big one, most of the time you hear a sophomore is playing varsity there is a question mark. BUT not when that sophomore ran for almost 1900 yards and scored 33 touchdowns as a freshman. James Robinson....you're on again. The Crusaders also return several of their key defenders like Austin Barnhart.
Coach: John Cacciatore
Last Year: 3rd Round Playoff Appearance 7A (11-1 OVERALL)
Bad News: DeMarcus Vines and his 1400 rushing yards are gone. So is receiver Dan Appino. The public waits to see who the first team to beat Boylan will be as their long NIC-10 undefeated streak continues and pressure may be mounting.
Good News: QB Brock Stull is back. He's been getting playing time since he was a sophomore so experience helps (that and almost 1300 passing yards and 440 rushing yards. Competition Harlem has lost some skill position players so some competition may be lessened but Hononegah's rushing attack will be back. Boylan always has the numbers so time will tell if they can withstand it.
Coach: Tim Sughroe
Last Year: 2nd Round Playoff Appearance 7A (8-3) *a previous win over Harlem was forfeited due to the use of ineligible players
Bad News: After beating Harlem they were determined to have an ineligible player and that win over a rival was negated. A few pieces of the passing game are gone.
Good News: 3 of the top 4 returning leading rushers in the NIC-10 reside in Rockton. Alex Martin, Jake Wilson, and Marrick Protz combined for 2300 yards and 38 touchdowns last year. Hononegah boasts an experienced attack and also returns many defensive stars.
Coach: Jim Morrow
Last Year: Loss in 1st Round Playoffs Class 7A (8-2 Overall)
Bad News: Harlem was hit hard by graduation. QB Justin VanWamBeke, and their running attack led by all-time leading rusher Kevin Witczik faces serious turnover.
Good News: Harlem has the numbers and a gigantic line which will help the new skill players on offense. At an average height over 6 feet and weight in the 240's, the "big uglies" could give the new skill players time to adjust.
Coach: Dan Appino
Last Year: Loss in 1st Round of Playoffs Class 6A (5-5 Overall)
Bad News: Leading rusher Devonne Manns and his over 700 yards of offense are gone. After facing two of the three big dogs in the conference at home last year Auburn will have to travel to some of the better teams in the conference.
Good News: After not winning a GAME for a few years, new coach Appino turned the team around and took them to the playoffs. QB Marcus Trautman and RB Quan Herron return with experience and the knowledge of what it feels like to win, a feeling not felt much in the previous years.
Coach: Chuck Leonard
Last Year: Loss in 1st Round of Playoffs Class 4A (5-5 Overall)
Bad News: Qb Troy Vandebroek and his favorite target Kane Steger are gone. Vandenbroek had led a passing attack that accounted for over 1300 yards.
Good News: Maurice Jackson is back. Jackson was in the top 10 in BOTH rushing and recieving in the conference. His experience will be leaned on much by new coach Chuck Leonard.
Coach: Jeff Beck
Last Year: 2-7
Bad News: For the third time in three years North is learning under a new coach. Gone are top 5 rushing talent Justin Powers and receiver Jordan Zickert.
Good News: QB Jace Bankord has been playing since he was a freshman and he returns for his junior season. Leading receiver Kevin Tevebauex is back. The team travels to some of the toughest places in the conference (although they do get Boylan at home). In a new twist North travels to Belvidere to OPEN the season for the first time after closing the season against the Crosstown Bucs in previous years.
Coach: Mel Gilfallan
Last Year: 3-6
Bad News: Leading rusher Justin Carroll and QB Nick Hyatte are both gone. The team will have to re-tool its skill players, albeit skill players that missed the playoffs the last two seasons following a long streak of making the playoffs every year.
Good News: Leading receiver and starting defensive back Sedrick Jones returns. He'll need to be a factor in any game the undermanned VIkings want to win.
Coach: Jeremy Warren
Last Year: 1-8
Bad News: All-conference and 1000 yard receiver Austin Young is gone. He was easily the main focus on the East offense and a shining star on a team that despite his efforts, went 1-8. Despite offensive flashes the team was outscored by an average of 20 points a game.
Good News: Jacob Benson returns (without Austin Young) but Benson's experience is what the E-Rabs are banking on as he led the league in passing (many thanks to Young).
Benson also leads all returning quarterbacks in touchdowns but unfortunately must tone down his other league leading stat (interceptions) if the E-Rabs are going to improve.
Coach: Patrick Babcock
Last Year: 2-7
Bad News: Garrett Perry, the conference's leading rusher, is gone. So is last year's starting QB Kelly Ferguson. That's ALOT of offense and experience to replace on a team that already struggled last year WITH them.
Good News: Coach Babcock has had a year of experience and starting anew may be just the right rebuilding tool he needs with almost a completely fresh batch of players.
Coach: Aaron Wichman
Last Year: 3 -6
Bad News: Freeport struggled. The rushing attack was strong but they just could not finish everybody off. They played some close games but scored the third-least points in the NIC-10 and were seen as TOO one-dimensional. They lost several close games.
Good News: The rushing attack is more experienced with 1100 yards returning in Steven McShane and their QB Qavean Meeks returns (who had almost 500 rushing yards himself). Experience is a key...or must be the key in closing games out. Passing for more than 40 yards a game could be a plus as well.
OTHER AREA SCHOOLS
Coach: Aaron Sullivan
Last Year: Conference Champs and first round loss in playoffs. 8-2 Overall
Bad News: Superstar QB Austin Baden is gone and his 2300 passing yards with him. Baden also rushed for 1000 yards. Baden was responsible for a huge majority of the offense and will be missed. A disappointing first round exit after winning the Big Northern East conference did not sit well.
Good News: WR Jon Lily, who had almost 1000 receiving yards last year is back. Nathan Bodey steps in and takes over the QB reigns after stepping in and throwing 2 td passes and for about 300 yards in Baden’s absence. Bodey and Lily need to help regenerate the high powered offense that the Vikings displayed last year and have a huge task at hand.
Coach: Chad Carpenter
LAST YEAR: 1-8
Bad News: Low numbers, including the lack of a sophomore team plagued the Lions. Shorthanded is no way to go when playing in the Big Northern Conference (West OR East). QB Coleman Nelson who did pass for 1000 yards, is gone.
Good News: Many others return like WR’s Wesley Strayer and Kalab Polky. Regenerating the pass game is a must. While having no JV is a disadvantage, Rockford Christian can only hope that getting experience to underclassmen can help.
Coach: Tony Ambrogio
LAST YEAR: 3-6
Bad News: CLC had a decent offense but tended to turn the ball over a bit. This did not sit well when the defense was giving up over 26 points a game. After a big year in 2010 the team has struggled through two 3-6 seasons in the Northeast conference.
Good News: Lots of experience. QB Brady Pond and WR Isiah Jones brings experience to the passing game. Pond and RB Rodney Quansah also combined for over 1000 rushing yards. CLC has a balanced attack when it gets it going.