Brother Rice’s experience and talent at some of the glamorous offensive positions is well-known.
Jack Lausch, a Notre Dame recruit for baseball and football, is back at quarterback. Illinois recruit Henry Boyer, a 6-6, 235-pound tight end, is a blocking force. And the Crusaders added one of the best running backs in the area in Aaron Vaughn, who transferred from Providence.
‘‘Honestly, [Vaughn] gave us fits when we played him two years ago,’’ Boyer said. ‘‘And now we’ve got him. It’s a big pickup. He’s just a physical, fast back that can do it all.’’
But the reason the No. 3 Crusaders should be among the elite teams in the state this season is their line play.
‘‘We have a lot of experience back on both lines, which will help us in the trenches and open up other things for us,’’ Brother Rice coach Brian Badke said.
Jackson Judeh, Carter McAlilly and Patrick Galeher return on the offensive line. The Crusaders have seven starters back on offense overall.
‘‘[Lausch] can make every throw,’’ Badke said. ‘‘He’s a three-year varsity player, a captain. And we have high expectations for him. He’s a dual threat. He can throw on the run, and that is very difficult for defenses, especially when we have a really good offensive line.’’
Six starters return on defense, led by linemen Kevin Frazier and Trey Pierce, linebacker Henry Ivers and defensive back Dameon Hall.
Also keep an eye on 6-2, 205-pound senior Khary Shaw, who has played all over the field the last two seasons.
Badke’s primary worry heading into the season is depth.
‘‘We need to see who is going to step up when guys get banged up during the season,’’ Badke said. ‘‘We have some question marks at linebacker and in the secondary, too.’’
Entering the season as the top-ranked team in the mighty CCL/ESCC Blue is no small feat, but Brother Rice’s players don’t seem fazed by it. The confidence all around the program is high.
‘‘We are just excited,’’ Lausch said. ‘‘So many guys are back, and we have young guys that are ready to play and contribute. I’m sure all the great programs will be really good again this year, so every game will be a challenge.’’
Lausch said he has been working on the mental aspect of his game.
‘‘I’m focusing on commanding the game and knowing the situation better,’’ Lausch said. ‘‘Just knowing when we need a big play and when we need to move the chains.’’
This will be Badke’s last season as the Crusaders’ coach. He has compiled a 64-38 record in 10 years and led them to a second-place finish in Class 8A in 2018.
Brother Rice already has hired Badke’s replacement. Casey Quedenfeld, who has coached in Texas and California, will take over the program next season. He’ll be an assistant with the Crusaders this season.
BROTHER RICE SCHEDULE
Aug. 27 at Hillcrest
Sep. 3 at Perspectives
Sep. 10 vs. Benet
Sep. 17 vs. Loyola
Sep. 24 at De La Salle
Oct. 1 at Mount Carmel
Oct. 8 vs. Joliet Catholic
Oct. 15 at Marian Catholic
Oct. 22 at Marist