Naz's Bartels: Return to playoffs top priority
LA GRANGE PARK – Jake Bartels is entering his third year as the varsity quarterback for Nazareth. Bartels also stars as a hitter and pitcher for the successful Roadrunner baseball team. During the summer, he split his time between the two sports, but fall is all about football.
Santaromita: What is your early impression of your team?
Bartels: The offensive line has been looking really solid throughout the whole camp so I’m pretty excited with what we have. We have a lot of young skill players so I think we’ll definitely be able to make a good run here and compete well in the ESCC.
Santaromita: Do you like playing in a tough conference like the ESCC?
Bartels: I think it’s good. It prepares us well for the playoffs for if we end up making it. Going up against schools that are obviously bigger than we are except for Joliet Catholic so it’s nice playing teams like that. You want to play the best of the best. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy playing the real solid competition week in, week out.
Santaromita: What was the feeling after going 5-4 and missing the playoffs?
Bartels: It was just a bitter feeling last year knowing that we just missed it. We’ve been working hard this whole offseason, whole camp, summer leading in and practice right now just trying to get an opportunity to redeem what happened last year and ultimately make it to the playoffs this year.
Santaromita: What's it like playing under coach Tim Racki?
Bartels: I think it’s good knowing the history he had at Driscoll [four state titles] and all the winning that he’s done as a coach. He obviously had success. He’s been a great mentor as far as leadership. He really teaches us and gives us the tools as far as leadership and being able to succeed once football is over.
Santaromita: As a returning quarterback are you hoping to pass the ball more this season?
Bartels: For me personally I just want to win football games. I don’t care how it gets done. It’s not about personal stats. I couldn't really care less if we threw the ball five times a game as opposed to 30 times a game as long as we put up wins.
Santaromita: What are you goals for the season?
Bartels: Our No. 1 goal this year is to make it back to the playoffs. I know we kind of had that taste two years ago making it to the Elite Eight and everything so we all kind of got to be around it. I think last year just missing it by a few (playoff) points we’re all really hungry to get back there and hopefully make another run.
Santaromita: Have you noticed progress in Nazareth's football program?
Bartels: All of us growing up pretty close we can remember when Naz wasn’t really a known football program. I think that Coach Racki and the rest of his coaching staff have really done a phenomenal job of putting Nazareth on the map. We’re just trying to improve everything about the football program. Each year that I’ve been here everything has just gotten a little bit better for the football program. It’s been a privilege to be a part of it and say I was a part of building up the football tradition here.
Aug. 31 at Proviso East, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 Julian, 1 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Marist, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 Joliet Catholic, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Carmel, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 Notre Dame, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 Benet, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Riverside Brookfield, 7:15 p.m.
Oct. 26 Marian, 1 p.m.
WEEK 1 MATCHUP
Who: Nazareth at Proviso East
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: 807 S. First Ave., Maywood
2012 records: Nazareth 5-4, Proviso East 0-9
Outlook: The Roadrunners trounced the Pirates 37-14 last year and will be looking for similar success to start the 2013 season. Proviso East has won just two games in the past three years, and Nazareth has won five straight season openers.