Huntley throws big Signing Day party

Huntley goalkeeper Jessica Galason will not mind if time seems to drag along this spring.

The core of the Red Raiders that has played together for so long gets one more run. That group celebrated Wednesday by signing its NCAA National Letters of Intent in the high school’s Learning Resource Center.

Six girls soccer players signed with NCAA D-I or D-II teams. Three football players and one girls track and field athletes also signed. Wednesday was the first day of the signing period for NCAA scholarship schools in football, soccer, cross country and track and field.

“I’m really happy for everybody,” said Galason, who signed with Illinois State. “It will be weird because we’re all going our separate ways. It goes by very fast. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.”

Huntley, which was 17-5-1 last season, had half of the area’s 12 girls who signed or will sign for soccer. Galason, Delaney Loprieno (Northern Illinois), Sam Morin (Illinois-Springfield), Beth Parks (Colorado State), Abby Nordeen (Minnesota State) and Rachel Zobott (Illinois-Chicago) are headed to NCAA scholarship schools.

All except Nordeen played club soccer with Heat United for about a decade until this year, when Zobott left for another club.

“It’s really exciting since we’ve played together 10 years and now we’re all signing,” Loprieno said. “We’ve had so much success together.”

Loprieno will enjoy getting back on the field this spring after missing most of her sophomore and junior seasons with injuries to her left knee. She has worked out hard at Going Vertical, a Huntley speed and agility training facility.

“I’ve never been as strong as I am right now,” Loprieno said. “I feel so much better, 100 times better.”

Raiders coach Kris Grabner has high expectations just like his players.

“It’s very exciting, we return 18 players from last year’s roster,” Grabner said. “I think every girl on the team could play college if she wanted to. Some aren’t because they want to go to bigger schools. You go through these days when you’re in an intense practice and realize this is the last time you’ll do it with these kids.”

Huntley’s Brandon Dranka signed with D-I North Dakota for football, while Mike Andrews and Mitchell Kawell both signed with D-II Quincy. Tina Driscoll signed with D-I Tennessee Tech for track.

Some other notable area athletes to sign Wednesday were Jacobs quarterback Bret Mooney (Colgate, D-I) and Crystal Lake Central quarterback Kyle Lavand (Northern State S.D., D-II) for football, and Woodstock’s Maura Beattie (Central Michigan) for cross country and track and field.

Mooney was the Northwest Herald Player of the Year and helped Jacobs win the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division. Lavand set Central’s passing records in yards and touchdowns last season.

Beattie was the state champion in the Class 2A 3,200 meters last spring.