As a four-year varsity starter, Bolingbrook senior safety Parrker Westphal has seen plenty of highs — and a few lows — firsthand.
If that qualifies the uncommitted Division I prospect as an accurate judge, the Raiders could be awfully good.
“Our team’s in a similar situation to what is was a couple of years ago,” Westphal said. “We finished (2010) with a big loss to Mount Carmel (55-27) and then won the state the next year.
“Last year, we lost to Neuqua (Valley 44-33), and that gives us something to build on. We already have chemistry with everyone we have back. We’ll be good.”
“There are similarities to the state championship team, especially defensively,” said running back Jaden Huff, a third-year starter. “The defense has a chip on their shoulder after the Neuqua game, and our offense will be balanced.”
“Our only problem is the numbers game,” coach John Ivlow said. “We may not have 50 kids suit up for our opener. We had too many injuries last year. We can’t have that again.”
Although All-State quarterback Aaron Bailey has moved on to Illinois, junior Quincy Woods gained experience last season when Bailey battled the injury bug.
“If he’s running our offense and we’re putting up 40 points, he’s doing his job,” Ivlow said of Woods.
“If Quincy had five more inches and 50 more pounds, he would be Aaron Bailey,” Westphal said.
Huff, John Hall and Mike Valentin, who transferred from Plainfield South, will run the ball.
Bolingbrook always sports depth at running back, and two backup backs, Neo Armstrong and Lovell Chandler, are at wide receiver, where they join lanky Dimitri Wiafe-Akenten.
“That gets our best guys on the field,” Ivlow said.
The offensive line has Chris Wilson back at center, third-year starter Nick Perry and second-year starter James Jacobson at guard, and Kahlel Martin and 301-pound Jacob Kastler at tackle.
“Our O-line is huge and better than it has been,” Huff said.
As formidable as the Raiders can be offensively, defense is their strength. Regulars return everywhere, including the secondary of safeties Westphal and Jacob Huff and corners Armani McNulty and Cecil Nicholson.
“I was a corner before,” Westphal said. “Being at safety will allow me to move around more, go anywhere.”
Julian Huff, C.J. Clark and sophomore Tuf Borland, a freshman starter, are at linebacker. Julian and Jacob Huff are twins and Jaden’s younger brothers.
On the defensive front, Bernard Flowers and Eli Carbajal are back, Max Pleasant will start and 6-4, 275-pound junior Micah Dew-Treadway has burst on the scene.
“Dew-Treadway didn’t start last year,” Ivlow said, “but he’s a hot item now. He’s a lean 275 and has room to grow.”
The kicking game is a plus with Adam Klein back from a broken hip and Westphal booting his rugby-style, running punts — unless he sees he can pick up a first down instead.
“I don’t care how far he kicks it, it’s a pain to defend,” Ivlow said.
“If I don’t turn it over, I made the right decision,” Westphal said of either running or kicking on the run.