GLEN ELLYN – A main cog in Glenbard West's dominant defense a year ago, Hayden Carlson is one of just three starters who return from that unit. A hard-hitting safety, the senior notched 82 solo tackles and 49 assists a year ago, including a 14-tackle performance in the state championship game.
Schmid: How did the offseason go?
Carlson: It was kind of the same as last year. We started off with a lot of holes and didn't know where all of our guys would be. But as the summer goes on, guys have stepped up.
Schmid: You guys have had a bull's-eye on your back for a few years and especially now. How do you counteract that?
Carlson: Just by taking it one game at a time. We don't worry about what happened last year, we put that in the past. All we can do is take it game by game.
Schmid: What makes your defense so special?
Carlson: I think it's the intensity that Coach demands from us. We are expected to be physical every play and to know all of our assignments. We have to have the mindset that we are the best defense in the state.
Schmid: What have you seen from the offense in practice?
Carlson: I think they will pick up from where they left off last year. Scott (Andrews) is one of the best offensive players in the state and Eric Shute is coming back on the offensive line and the rest of the guys fit in nicely. They do what they do.
Schmid: How would you describe your senior class?
Carlson: We've got a good mix of some great leaders and a lot of role players who have stepped right in and picked up where the seniors from last year left off.
Schmid: Knowing how high your expectations are, is it tough not to look ahead?
Carlson: I think the biggest thing, we just try to go 1-0 every week. In the end, everything else will take care of itself. I remember last year, that was our mindset. All summer we focused on Wheaton South and then after Week 1, it switched to Willowbrook. You don't want to take any game for granted.
Schmid: Is the team excited for the opener against Wheaton Warrenville South?
Carlson: We are super pumped. We've got a big target on our back and we have to try to not let the pressure get to us. We are just taking it day by day and when the season starts, we will be ready.