Eagles Football Preview

Eagles Football Preview

By Tim O’Sullivan

For the Independent

 

Momentum is on their side in coming off the program’s most successful season in over a decade. In his fifth year, head coach Seth Womack can finally attempt to transform the tradition of mediocrity into one of success. Eagle fans will notice much of the same schemes and formations on the field, but what’s dramatically different is the personnel taking on those responsibilities.

 

Offense

It’s as simple as this. If the Eagles run the ball effectively, they will win games. If they can’t they’ll be in for a long season. As run happy as they got towards the end of 2016, that will only be exasperated this season. With a lack of commodities in the passing game, Womack will keep the ball on the ground, of which he traditionally favors.

 

Quarterback

Junior Josh Sitzer gets the call at the season’s outset. Womack is willing to take more risks this year in allowing his quarterback to run the ball, as Sitzer already plays another physical position as one of the starting outside linebackers. Noah Page or Alex Carrillo would jump under center should the need for a backup arise.

 

Running Back

Student body right. Student body left. Three yards and a cloud of dust. Smash mouth football. Whatever cliché you want to use that’s what these guys will be doing most of the time. Page along with Carrillo will see most of the carries, though Page’s position will be more of a hybrid, lining up in several different spots. Dante Lallo and Eric Parliament will also see time here along with freshman Devin Bradd in this five-headed attack.

 

Tight Ends/Receivers

Outside of the occasional play-action to keep defenses honest, this group won’t do much catching of the football. Outside of Page – clearly the team’s best receiver – this group remains unproven. The Eagles will run a lot of two tight end formations with Jimmy Kinyon and Drew Hodges bookending the line of scrimmage.

 

Offensive Line

Center Clayton Fraughton is the only returner among this group, and even his spot isn’t a certainty with the emergence of Noah Linder, a battle that may not be resolved until opening night. The rest of the line will be comprised of juniors, with Andrew Barlow and Charlie Jacobson at right guard and tackle respectively. Hayden Gainey and Ryland Morgan line up on the left side, completing the group that will shoulder the heavy burden of creating running lanes in this one-dimensional offense.

 

Defense

The 4-4 set will look much the same as in previous years, though first year defensive coordinator Josh Fagan has simplified responsibilities to emphasize the effort and athleticism of the group. This was a big area of concern entering training camp, and while the coaching staff’s confidence has risen over the last two weeks, uncertainty remains as to how this group stops opposing offenses.

 

Defensive Line

This group will look much like the offensive line with Morgan and Gainey flipping around to the outside spots. A pair of tight ends, Hodges and backup Brian LeFevre hold down the interior.

 

Linebackers

As with many defenses this group will play a large part in the success or failure of the entire unit. There is experience here with Kinyon and Carrillo returning to hold down the two inside spots. The quarterback Sitzer and Lallo line up on the outside, where responsibilities include covering anyone from running backs to wide receivers on passing downs.

 

Defensive Backs

Page, who it seems will never leave the field, is the best of the group, and will serve as the shutdown corner against the opponents best wide receiver. Edgar Bravo will play deep as the lone safety, while Brady Thrash, who didn’t even play football last year to concentrate on wrestling, impressed during camp to grab the other corner spot.

 

Special Teams

Regarding the kicking game, this area was nothing short of a disaster during the first half of last season. While it didn’t play a factor in early blowout wins, a missed 25-yard field goal near the end of regulation of a one-point loss at Thurston ultimately cost the Eagles a home playoff game. Sophomore Carlos Seiter has the first opportunity to improve that area in 2017. Page again won’t get close to the sideline water cooler in taking on the punting duties.

Who returns kicks and punts is an area still wide open, with David Banuelos just one of many candidates mentioned by the staff to get an opportunity.

 

With so many new faces, it remains to be seen as to what kind of team the Eagles will put forth in 2017. While it sounds to be a rebuilding year, they’re hardly alone, as most teams in the Midwestern League lost large amounts of seniors, particularly at the skill positions. The fact is, we just won’t know answers to many of these questions until they suit up for the first time against Glencoe on August 31st.