If the 2012 football season proved anything, Plainfield North’s 4-5 record in 2011 was nothing more than a blip on the screen.
The Tigers returned to form a season ago, reaching the playoffs and finishing 7-3 for the third time in four years, not to mention throwing a major scare into highly regarded Oswego before falling 28-21 in the opening round of the playoffs.
Coach Tim Kane and his staff have important pieces to replace on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Kurt Palandech, running back Jay Roberts and most of the offensive line. They are prepared to meet the challenge.
“We definitely have more guys back on the defensive side,” Kane said Wednesday during North’s visit to the University of St. Francis 7-on-7 Passing Jamboree at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium. “We’ve got a lot of defensive linemen back, plus a couple of linebackers and two defensive backs. That’s a lot of experience.”
So while the new faces on offense get acclimated to their roles, the defense could shoulder the burden.
“We have a lot of guys on defense who are ready to play,” said senior linebacker Marty McGrail, who spent seven games at strong corner in 2012 before moving into a linebacker slot. “Everybody has been working hard, lifting every day.”
Palandech, of course, was special with his ability to create plays. Before him, the Tigers were quarterbacked by Kyle Palandech, Bryce Corrigan and Andrew Starks. The player who wins the job this season will follow in quite a legacy.
“We have three kids who are competing right now,” Kane said. “Jared Samms and Ben Tegtmeyer are juniors and J.D. Ekowa is a sophomore.”
Kane said Samms is an athlete and will play somewhere if not quarterback. “If J.D. isn’t our quarterback, he will go back to the sophomore team,” he added.
“So far, J.D. has been throwing well, almost like Kurt,” senior wide receiver Matt Welch said. “He can run a little bit but he can hurt teams even more with his arm.”
Palandech’s backup last season, senior Jack Butler, is a possibility at quarterback, though he may be on the field all the time as the versatile H-back and a linebacker.
“Kurt had so much experience,” Butler said of Palandech. “It will be tough for anyone to step in and do what he did.”
The running back position will feature senior Robert Baker and/or junior Quintin Hoosman.
“Quintin did a good job as a sophomore last year when Jay had a bit of a thigh bruise,” Kane said.
While new starters will be moving into the line, “we do have a little depth there,” Kane said. “It’s a good situation to have kids competing for almost every spot.”
The 2013 Tigers also may feed off the extra incentive that comes from the down-to-the-wire playoff loss to Oswego.
“That game was tough,” Welch said. “The loss was tough to swallow. We have Oswego circled on our schedule.”
“There were two good teams on the field and a couple of plays here and there, it could have gone the other way,” Butler said. “We’re hungry to beat those guys.”