Coach: John Lalor (12th season, 80-38)
2013 record: 6-4, 6-3 NAC (fourth place)
Fast fact: Alden-Hebron has made the playoffs 10 out of the past 11 seasons. The Giants only missed the playoffs in the 2011 season during that span.
• Alden-Hebron will have an experienced team this season, after losing only five seniors (three starters) from a team that made the Class 1A playoffs. The roster still has only 25 athletes on it, but most have played or been a starter for a few years. “We have pretty much everybody back,” Lalor said. “These kids have had to step up and play as young guys, so they already have the experience. We are definitely faster and stronger than past seasons as well.”
• One big loss was four-year player and leading rusher Nick Beck. Beck ran the ball 117 times for 656 yards last season as well as being the receiving yards record holder at A-H.
• The Giants run the ball a bunch. Nate Peterson was the second-leading rusher for the Giants rushing for 647 yards on 123 attempts. He will be joined by Josh Johnson, a back Lalor believes could have a big year because of his speed as long as he stays focused.
• Other offensive threats include do-everything player Cody Nelson, whom Lalor is trying to give the ball to as much as possible. Nelson is athletic and will be used in several spots for the Giants. He had nine catches for 237 yards last year to lead A-H in receiving. Second-year starting quarterback Colten Cashmore also has looked sharper early in practice.
• Because of a lack of size, the Giants will be implementing a new defensive strategy this season. The team is moving to a 3-5-3, that will try to showcase its speed. Alec O’Halleran, who is moving to linebacker, and Marshall Glenn could have big years defensively.
• Rockford Christian Life should be a strong opponent for the Giants this year out of the Northeastern Athletic Conference. Christian Life beat A-H, 56-0, last season, a loss that still stings the A-H players and coaches. “I hope we are right there fighting at the top of the conference,” Lalor said. “We definitely have the Christian Life game circled for this year after they put it to us pretty bad last year. People will know that when they play the Giants this year, it won’t be easy.”
Drill that stands out
Diamond Drill. In this drill, players face one-on-one matchups in which the defender attempts to keep the ball carrier from making a move and getting by them in the open field. The Giants struggled in the open field last season, so Lalor is trying to get his players to settle down their hips and make contact to wrap up. It’s a huge focus for the team. The players seem to enjoy it as well, as they tried to both make moves and stop their teammates from getting past them.
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 30 Christian Liberty* 1 p.m.
Sept. 6 @ Chicago Luther North* 1 p.m.
Sept. 12 @ Chicago Hope* 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 Rockford Christian Life* 1 p.m.
Sept. 26 @ Westminster Christian* 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 Mooseheart* 1 p.m.
Oct. 10 @ Hiawatha* 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 North Shore Country Day* 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 @ Ottawa Marquette* 7 p.m.
* – NAC game
– Kevin Meyer