After eight straight playoff appearances, St. Charles North missed the party last season. A return is the destination, but North Stars coach Mark Gould stresses the importance of the journey.
"To get back to the playoffs, to win conference, that's our longer-term goal," said Gould, in his second-to-last season before retirement.
"But our day-by-day goal is to be more aggressive, to think less and react quicker and to play better fundamentally. Those are things that when we looked at last year were problems."
Plopped into last year's 3-5 defense after recovering from a broken hand, Jake Bergren especially picked up the tempo. He's since graduated, but Gould thinks there are players on this year's squad who can batten the hatches after St. Charles North allowed an average of 34.6 points per game in 2010.
"We might see that the biggest improvement is on defense," he said. "Last year we had to play some guys who were really inexperienced, and already we've seen a lot more aggressiveness, a lot more speed at least at first glance."
The North Stars return four starters from last year's defensive set, all seniors: inside linebacker Sam Scorby, defensive end Hayden Lewis, cornerback Michael Schroeder and nose tackle Shawn Meaney, son of Bartlett coach Tom Meaney, who inherits Bergren's No. 6. Scorby tied for second on last year's squad with 48 tackles, and added 4 tackles for loss. Senior cornerback and team leader Shawn Collins made 26 tackles last season.
Gould doesn't figure this is the most experienced bunch unlike the senior-dominated state quarterfinal team of 2009 but he sees others such as sophomore inside linebacker Reece Conroyd as players who can "step right in."
The North Stars don't seem to have trouble scoring. In 2010 quarterback Matt Shiltz set season records for passing yardage (1,567) and touchdown passes (22), and Josh Mikes recorded a program-record 732 yards receiving.
While senior Collin Peterson and junior Ryan Fischbach will vie for time behind center quarterback battles have also been the recent norm here Gould sees leadership in running back Will Ohlrich. The 195-pound senior figures to bulk up last season's 90 yards on 21 carries behind returning starting linemen Andrew "A.J." Diehl, Dan Cassidy and Kyle Breith, the latter each packing a 260-pound load.
Tackle Chase Gianacakos, all 6-foot-5, 255 pounds of him, joins Conroyd and tight end Garrett Johnson as impact sophomores. Johnson, Oshay Hodges and Pat Donlevy are part of a receiver corps that is deep but doesn't return much in stats.
"Offensively our skilled kids are going to kind of be inexperienced, so it's going to be how quickly we can get them up to speed," Gould said.
They will deliver a blow when they arrive.
"This year we feel we have much more speed, are much more aggressive and the kids are stronger," Gould said. "It should work out that we give up less points, but we'll see."
St. Charles North breakdown
Coach: Mark Gould (11th year, 57-44).
2009 record: 4-5, 3-3, fourth place in conference.
Postseason: Last playoff appearance in 2009, qualified 8 of the last 9 years.
Last five years (starting in 2006): 7-4, 5-5, 6-4, 8-4, 4-5
2011 Enrollment: 2084
Date Opponent Time
8/26 Hinsdale Central 7:30
9/2 Plainfield Central 7:30
9/9 at Neuqua Valley 7:30
9/17 at Streamwood 1:30*
9/23 Geneva 7:30*
9/30 Elgin 7:30*
10/7 at Larkin 7:30*
10/14 Batavia 7:30*
10/21 at St. Charles E. 7:30*
* denotes conference game
Offense (Double slot)
Pos. Name Ht/Wt Yr.
QB Collin Peterson 5-10/155 Sr.
or Ryan Fischbach 6-4/180 Jr.
FB George Edlund 5-10/180 Jr.
RB Will Ohlrich 6-0/195 Sr.*
RB Nick Lynch 5-8/190 Jr.
WR Oshay Hodges 6-2/175 Sr.
WR Patrick Donlevy 6-1/175 Sr.
LT A.J. Diehl 6-4/260 Sr.*
LG Dan Cassidy 6-3/215 Sr.*
C Kyle Breith 6-2/260 Sr.*
RG Tyler LaMaide 5-8/210 Sr.
RT Chase Gianacakos 6-5/255 So.
K Michael Schroeder 5-11/170 Sr.
Pos. Name Ht/Wt Yr.
NT Shawn Meaney 6-4/240 Sr.*
DE Hayden Lewis 6-3/230 Sr.*
DE Wes Pasholk 6-2/215 Jr.
OLB Corbin Burke 6-1/175 Sr.
ILB Sam Scorby 5-10/205 Sr.*
MLB Reece Conroyd 5-11/185 So. ILB Alec Datoli 5-11/185 Jr.
OLB Michael Rerko 5-11/180 Jr. S Nick McCullough 6-0/170 Jr.
CB Michael Schroeder 5-11/170 Sr.
CB Shawn Collins 5-9/175 Sr.
P Shawn Collins 5-9/175 Sr.
* denotes returning starter