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No. 8 Homewood-Flossmoor’s defense out to change minds, raise standards

Homewood-Flossmoor's Isaiah Coe rushes the passer. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Homewood-Flossmoor defensive end Charlie Brooks knows his team’s reputation.

“People say that H-F doesn’t really play defense, that we just like to score,” Brooks said. “They say we will score 35 but give up 50.”

The Vikings averaged 38 points last season and scored more than 43 in the first four games of the season. But they allowed just 15 points per game. So maybe the reputation isn’t quite reality.

Nevertheless, Brooks is out to change the perception. Homewood-Flossmoor will start the season ranked No. 8 in the Sun-Times’ preseason Super 25.

“We are going to change minds and raise our standards,” Brooks said. “We have a lot of experience back. Now we are hungrier and we know more what to expect. In those big games last year we came out and didn’t play our best. We let the bright lights and pressure take advantage of us. This year you will see us finish better in those games.”

H-F was 9-2 last season, losing to Naperville Central in the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs. The other loss was to eventual 8A champs Lincoln-Way East, a Southwest Suburban rival.

“After we lost that game we saw Lincoln-Way East go on to dominate the state,” said wide receiver Maurion Scott. “We know what it would take to beat them and we match up well with them.”

The defense is led by cornerback Wynston Russell, an Oregon State recruit, defensive tackle Isaiah Coe and linebacker Justin Whiteside. The team has seen big things in practice from linebacker Kellen Williams, who may be poised to take a big step forward this season.

“The strength of the team early on should be our defense, they might have to carry us at the start,” Vikings coach Craig Buzea said.

It’s unlikely that Homewood-Flossmoor will have trouble scoring, things are just far from settled yet. Buzea says he has a quarterback competition on his hands.

Junior Dominick Jones was forced into the starting spot last year due to an injury. He’s now facing a challenge from seniors Kahlid Lamarre and Cameron Wright, a transfer from Merrillville, Ind.

“It’s been a nice battle so far,” Buzea said. “They are all doing a good job so that isn’t a bad thing.”

The offense’s major challenge will be replacing dynamic running back Justin Hall, who is now at NIU. Leon Tanna, Hall’s running mate last season, returns and should provide some stability at the position.

“There are a lot of question marks when you lose someone like Justin who really was a big focal point,” Buzea said. “You have to see who is going to step up and that is yet to be determined.

“The offensive line is pretty much revamped but we feel good about the progress they have made. They have good size, are close to averaging about 290 and are athletic.”

Scott, a wide receiver, is a breakout athlete worth keeping an eye on. He has interest from Wyoming, Western Michigan and Oregon State. But the 6-5 senior is also a very good basketball player with interest from D2 schools.

“I want to play basketball in college,” Scott said. “But if I get the opportunity to play both I would.”

Scott thinks this year’s team can outdo last season.

“This group is better because we have a bond,” Scott said. “We know when we step onto the field we have to be serious and focused.”

HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR SCHEDULE

Aug. 24 at Michigan City, Ind.

Sept. 1 vs. St. Louis Lutheran North

Sept. 7 vs. Stagg

Sept. 14 at Bolingbrook

Sept. 21 vs. Lincoln-Way West

Sept. 28 at Lincoln-Way East

Oct. 5 at Bradley-Bourbonnais

Oct. 12 vs. Andrew

Oct. 19 vs. Sandburg

This is the third story in the Sun-Times 2018 Football Countdown series. The No. 7 ranked team will be revealed tomorrow.

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Want the latest info and analysis on high school football? Our preps team of Michael O’Brien, Beth Long and Annie Costabile will share all the latest news, insights and Super 25 football rankings in a new livestream show called “Sun-Times Game Week.” Our next preview show is Aug 20 at 4:30 p.m., then the regular season livestream show will be every Monday at 6:30 p.m. starting August 27. Like and follow our high school sports Facebook page to watch the show on FACEBOOK LIVE. You can also ask questions using the hashtag #SunTimesGameWeek.