Football: Graduation losses aside, Coal City optimistic
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org July 10, 2013 7:48PM
Coal City's Brennen Shetina | File photo
Updated: August 12, 2013 6:11AM
As with many 2012 playoff teams, Coal City suffered heavy graduation losses.
But with a few key returnees, two high-caliber players returning from injury and good competition for starting spots on both sides of the ball, veteran coach Lenny Onsen said the Coalers’ camp is eager for the new season.
“No doubt we lost a good senior group,” Onsen said during the recent University of St. Francis 7-on-7 Passing Jamboree at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium. “But we’re looking forward to bouncing back into a good position.
“We get to come to this 7-on-7 and play against big schools like Minooka, Plainfield South and Bloom and see how we measure up. If we see we have to make changes down the road, we can do that.”
Giant junior tackle Matt Long and junior running back Jack Dibble return after injuries curtailed their 2012 seasons. Dibble did get a chance to carry the ball in the huge 13-12 season-opening win over neighborhood rival Wilmington but missed virtually the entire season because of an ACL injury.
“Having Dibble back helps a lot,” senior quarterback Brennen Shetina said. “He and I make a good combination in the backfield.”
Shetina can throw effectively after having a year of varsity experience under his belt, “but I like running it, too,” he said. When he does throw, Nick Peters and Lance Cowherd provide good targets.
Long’s return to an offensive line that welcomes back Elliot Montanez and Bailey Depodesta is huge.
“I hope he (Long) doesn’t break anything this year,” Shetina said. “It really hurt when he went down.”
“Our offensive line will be good,” Onsen said. “Long is 6-5, 290 and he’s legit. He’ll be our next Keegan Grant.”
Grant, a 2005 Coal City graduate, walked on at Northwestern, earned a scholarship in 2007 and eventually started 16 games at guard for the Wildcats.
The Coalers will jump into the fire immediately, again facing Wilmington in the opener, but this time at Coal City.
“Everybody is riled up about playing Wilmington,” Shetina said. “The whole town will be there, that’s for sure.”
The quarterback never will forget last year’s Wilmington game.
“It never hurts if you can beat your biggest rival on opening night,” he said. “We stole one back at Wilmington after it was almost stolen from us.
“It was a nice feeling for me. I got a few snaps as a sophomore, but that was really my first varsity game.”
After a strong regular season and two playoff victories, the end came for the Coalers when they dropped a 28-13 decision to Rock Island Alleman in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
Even though outside linebacker Kasey Kaiser is the only returning starter from an outstanding defensive unit, Onsen said there are positive signs for a team that hopes to continue the school’s playoff tradition.
“I like how things are going now,” he said. “We have a lot of open positions where there’s competition, and the guys have been good in the weight room. I’m really happy with them.”
The plan for the rest of summer?
“We want to make a little more progress, get our routes right and take care of little things on the defensive side,” Onsen said. “We want to get our communication down. That’s even more important now with the practice change (no double sessions in August).”