Football preview: Young Lemont team looks to continue playoff streak
AT A GLANCE
Coach: Eric Michaelsen
2012 record: 11-2
Conference: South Suburban Blue, 5-1, T-1st
Drew Hayes sr. LB
Anthony Berta sr. DB
Connor Melvin sr. OL
Drew Miller sr. DL
Frank Pignone jr. LB
Joe Bailey sr. QB
Ethan Chester sr. TE
Nathan Palermo jr. G
Matt Monaco sr. WR
Jason Koepke jr. LB
Lucas Mathias sr. LB
Mike Disanto sr. WR
WHAT TO WATCH
YOUTH IS SERVED: Not a lot is known about this Lemont team, which returns just one starter on offense and four on defense. But one thing is certain, with six or seven sophomores expected to land starting roles, this could be the least experienced group coach Eric Michaelsen has ever had.
"It's a group that is working hard and a group that wants to be good," he said. "Now we have to try to coach them up."
NEXT LEADERS: With the loss of a standout senior class, including Division I-players Ethan Pocic and Tim McAuliffe, plenty of opportunities are there for players to step up. Joe Bailey inherits the quarterback job, Matt Monaco and Mike Disanto take over receiver roles and the trio of Mike Larkins, Julio Aleman and Jimmy Kepouros will try to replace the production of running back Chris Giatras. Jason Koepke and Lucas Mathias step in at linebacker.
"We've got to be better day to day and week to week," Michaelsen said. "If we are as good now as we are going to get, that would be disappointing."
STREAK ON THE LINE: Though the make-up of the team has changed, one thing that won't be different is the Indians' expectations. This fall, Lemont is seeking its 10th consecutive trip to the postseason after making the playoffs just once in the previous 10 years. But the squad will have its work cut out, especially with four-game stretch to start the season that includes both Oak Forest and Richards.
"Our goal is the same as it always is, to make the playoffs," Michaelsen said. "But we have a target on our backs. Everybody shoots for us, we understand that."
"I don't want to overstate it but we are young. We have a large amount of sophomores being asked to play varsity football and we have juniors and seniors who are relatively inexperienced."
Indians head coach
BY THE NUMBERS
9: Years in a row that Lemont has reached the postseason
68: Total wins for the Indians during their current run of six straight seasons with double-digit wins
3: Receptions last year by Ethan Chester, the only returning Lemont player who caught a pass in 2012