Flynn Nagel couldn’t wait to get on the field with his new Lemont teammates to compete in the Richards 7-on-7 passing tournament.
“It’s definitely an awesome experience,” he said. “Practicing against each other is always good, but getting out here and facing some opponents and getting after it is great experience for us. We’ve got to work together. It’s a lot of fun.”
Nagel, a receiver who has signed with Duke, piled up 1,488 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns last season for Marist before transferring to Lemont in January.
Having grown up in Lemont, he’s excited to play with some longtime friends.
“It’s cool because I grew up playing with all these kids in Lemont,” he said. “It’s not that new to me. It’s going to be a fun senior year getting to play with them again just like when we were growing up. I’m really looking forward to it and really looking forward to this fall.”
While Nagel attracted much of the attention at Richards, there’s more than one reason for excitement around the Lemont program.
Bret Kooi, who won Class 8A state titles in 2002 and ’03 at Lockport and went 105-69 in 17 seasons at the helm of the Porters, has taken over at Lemont in his first head coaching job since leaving Lockport.
“I feel like I’m just fitting in with what these guys have done,” Kooi said. “I truly feel like I’m not taking over. I feel like I’m just an addition to what they had going. Eric (Michaelsen) has done a phenomenal job with the staff that’s existing. I didn’t have to rearrange or change much.”
The Indians are coming off a 3-6 season that ended their streak of nine straight playoff seasons, but Kooi sees potential for a quick turnaround.
“I think we’ve got a lot of team speed,” Kooi said. “There are some kids on both sides of the ball that can run. Offensively, I think we have some skill guys that are really going to give some people some problems. Obviously, Flynn is one of them, but there’s much more than just him. That’s what’s exciting. Defensively, it’s the same way. We have some people that can run. It’s going to be fun.”
Senior quarterback Ryan Dawson and junior Chris Thompson will compete for snaps. Both got playing time last season.
“We’ve got some work we’ve got to do with those guys,” Kooi said. “We’re finally starting to pick up our reads here and there. We just need to get better consistent-wise.”
Kooi expects big things from senior receiver Jamie Glista, senior running back Thomas Bleka and junior defensive back/return specialist Jeremy Fejedelem.
And, of course, there’s Nagel.
“Coach Kooi can get everybody the ball,” Nagel said. “He’s got an amazing offense and that’s something I’m hoping to be a big part of.”