Football preview: Naz looking to build consistency
LA GRANGE PARK – After just missing out on the playoffs a year ago, Nazareth is looking to get back in the second season this fall. Senior quarterback Jake Bartels has three returning offensive linemen protecting him and a lot of young, talented skill position players to use as weapons.
AT A GLANCE
Coach: Tim Racki
2012 record: 5-4
Conference: East Suburban Catholic, 2-4, 8th
Jake Bartels sr. QB
Robbie Brindley sr. RB/DB
Will Colmery sr. DE
Jack Dolan sr. DB
Joey Fontano sr. WR
Kevin Jackson jr. WR/DB
Dmitri Joe jr. OL/DL
Chris Simmons so. WR/DB
Jack Shutack jr. OL/DL
Michael Stec sr. OL/DL
Dan Bakovich jr. LB/RB
Doug DiFusco sr. CB/WR
Decx Kelly jr. WR/LB
Brandon Mills sr. RB
WHAT TO WATCH
BACK TO PLAYOFFS: A year after going 5-4 but missing out on the playoffs due to playoff points, the Roadrunners are determined to get back into the postseason. Coach Tim Racki bemoaned the program's up-and-down performances since he took over. Getting back to the postseason would be a step toward building some consistency.
SIZE UP FRONT: Three starters return on the offensive line. Senior captain Daniel Lockie, junior Jack Shutack and senior Michael Stec are part of a big and experienced blocking core. In addition, junior twins Patrick and John Kilcommons will provide big size on the offensive line. The five projected starters average above 6-foot-2 and 252 pounds.
"It’s the biggest O-line Naz has ever had," Lockie said. "We’re not looking to be great, we’re looking to dominate everybody.”
NEW RUNNING BACKS: The Roadrunners will have to replace the production of running backs Josh Moore and Rudy Romagnano, who combined for 18 touchdowns and more than 1,000 rushing yards last season. The top three rushers from last season are all gone. Brandon Mills, a transfer from Plainfield East, and two-way senior captain Robbie Brindley will be among a group of rushers expected to share a balanced work load this fall.
"We run a good program, at least from where it was. It used to be everybody’s homecoming game when I got here (in 2005). Now we’re respected."
BY THE NUMBERS
17-18: Nazareth's record in the ESCC the past five seasons
3: Playoff appearances for Nazareth under coach Tim Racki, with a 5-3 record.
20: Points per game allowed by Naz's defense last season