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Football preview: Back-to-back playoff appearances a goal for Willowbrook

Published: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 1:29 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:53 a.m. CDT
Caption
Erica Benson-ebenson@shawmedia.com Willowbrook's Jeremy Barnes runs a play while the team prepares for the season during practice Thursday August 22 2013.

AT A GLANCEClass: 7ACoach: Nick Hildreth2012 record: 6-4Conference: West Suburban Gold, 4-2, T-2nd

TOP RETURNERS Brian Johnson sr. QB Jeremy Barnes sr. RB Devin Childress sr. WR Hayden Adams sr. WR/DB Jake DePaul sr. OL Adrian Abrams sr. OL

KEY NEWCOMERS Josan Murphy so. DB T.J. Geritano so. WR Kyle Rushing jr. WR David Harris jr. RB Kyle Martyniuk so. OL

WHAT TO WATCH

LEADING THE CHARGE:
The Warriors are inexperienced on defense so the offense will be asked to shoulder a large majority of the load, especially early on. Willowbrook brings back some firepower, led by quarterback Brian Johnson who went over the 2,000-yard passing plateau in 2012. Running back Jeremy Barnes also returns after finding the end zone six times last fall as does wide receiver Devin Childress and offensive lineman Jake DePaul.

"Upfront we graduated four and we also graduated our leading receiver [Dom Battaglia]," coach Nick Hildreth said. "But we have guys who have been there before and some others will have to step up. And Brian continues to get better and he had a great offseason."

FRESH START ON 'D': How the defensive unit shakes out won't be answered for a while, but one thing is certain, a lot of new faces are set to receive opportunities. Hayden Adams is the lone returner with vast experience.

"We are running in six different linebackers, seven different defensive linemen," coach Nick Hildreth said. "Competition is there without a doubt. There are kids who can play, and day to day, we are plugging different guys in there."

NEW IDENTITY: After winning a combined seven games from 2008 to 2011, the Warriors nearly equaled that mark last fall. Willowbrook finished 6-4 on the year, advancing to the postseason for the second time in eight years. Now it is up to a new group to try to continue that success.

"That's a thing we've talked about, finding an identity," coach Nick Hildreth said. "I can't pinpoint that yet, it's still out there."

COACH'S QUOTE "We do not look past any week and I know the kids can get frustrated with that. But we have to go day by day and just worry about us getting better."Nick Hildreth
Warriors head coach

BY THE NUMBERS64: Players on the Warriors' 2013 roster, up from the mid-50s a year ago2,187: Yards passing in 2012, along with 17 touchdowns, for returning quarterback Brian Johnson1,036: Rushing yards last fall for running back Jeremy Barnes

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