Plainfield East gains maturity
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org August 19, 2012 11:48PM
Plainfield East's Brennen Rompa. | File photo
2011 record: 3-6 (Class 6A)
2011 Southwest Prairie record: 3-4
2012 football enrollment: 1,860 (Class 6A/7A)
Head coach: Mike Romeli
(4-14 in two years at Plainfield East)
Offensive coordinator: Mike Romeli
Defensive coordinator: Nick Curby
Base offense: Multiple
Base defense: 4-4
(Opponent football enrollment in parentheses)
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Aug. 24 at Metea Valley (2,485) 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Batavia (1,910) 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 Oswego East (2,001) 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Plainfield North (1,954) 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 Minooka (2,557) 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 Oswego (2,371) 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Romeoville (1,790) 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 Plainfield Central (2,165) 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 at Plainfield South (2,439) 7 p.m.
2011 RESULTS (FINAL RECORD 3-6)
(Opponent final record in parentheses)
DATE OPPONENT RESULT
Aug. 26 Metea Valley (4-5) L 37-28
Sept. 2 Batavia (12-1) L 48-6
Sept. 9 Plainfield North (4-5) W 38-12
Sept. 16 at Minooka (6-4) L 54-27
Sept. 23 at Oswego (8-3) L 43-36
Sept. 30 Romeoville (3-6) W 40-14
Oct. 8 at Plainfield Central (5-4) L 33-21
Oct 14 Plainfield South (5-5) L 32-13
Oct 21 at Oswego East (2-7) W 27-0
Appearances: 0 (in 3 varsity seasons)
Did you know?: Offensive lineman Tyler Lancaster’s first collegiate offer was from Eastern Michigan, coach Mike Romeli’s alma mater.
Updated: September 21, 2012 6:02AM
Plainfield East coach Mike Romeli has gone from watching a program tumble around day to day in a shambles to one that is starting to resemble a well-oiled machine.
“Two years ago it was in disarray,” Romeli said. “I tried to lay a foundation, and, even though we got our butts kicked week in and week out, we talked about competing and playing hard.”
That talk has helped Plainfield East emerge from some dark days, and it’s also been beneficial for one player who has made history for the 3-year-old program.
The biggest name on the Bengals’ roster is Tyler Lancaster, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound center who committed to Northwestern over the summer almost immediately after Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald offered.
Lancaster, who is the first Big Ten recruit to come out of Plainfield East, is a three-star lineman, according to Rivals.com and Scout.com, and will join Southwest Prairie rival offensive lineman Blake King, of Minooka, as a 2013 Northwestern recruit.
“He’s been through a lot with his recruiting because things didn’t start to pick up until the spring,” Romeli said of Lancaster. “He was getting attention from mostly MAC (Mid-American Conference) schools, but Northwestern called about 30 minutes after he left campus (from a one-day camp). It was a huge burden off his shoulders.”
Romeli said Lancaster will also see reps on the defensive line this season.
Most of Romeli’s players are on both sides of the ball. And even though there are only four returning starters on offense and seven on defense, Romeli doesn’t want the numbers to skew reality. All his returning starters are going to be playing both offense and defense.
Joining Lancaster on the offensive line are two other returnees in Shaquille Perez and Kevin Ramirez. Stephen Franklin also will see time on the line with Perez, Ramirez and Lancaster. All four will do double-duty on the defensive line as well.
Linebacker/running back Brennen Rompa, the Bengals’ leading tackler from a season ago, returns and will play alongside his younger brother, junior tailback Cullen Rompa.
Another two-way player Romeli can rely on is cornerback/tailback Aris Irizarry.
The Bengals finished 3-6 last season and 3-4 in the Southwest Prairie, ending the conference in a three-way tie for fourth place.
Plainfield East, a new program for a school that opened in 2008, never has made the playoffs since its first season of varsity football in 2009. The Bengals have gone 5-22 in that three-year period and 4-14 under Romeli.
So how realistic is a playoff berth, considering the school produced a Big Ten recruit in Lancaster?
“The playoffs are a legitimate chance,” Romeli said. “We’re telling our guys to take it one game at a time, and we know we have that in our sights. We’ve closed the gap with other programs.”