WOODSTOCK – Marian Central linebacker Steve Wember is convinced the Hurricanes’ defense will be improved.
“We’re going to pack a punch harder than last year,” Wember said. “We’re going to be a lot faster, have a lot bigger line and more experience. We know if we stay strong [on defense] our offense will put up points. It gives you a lot of confidence.”
Marian’s offense is rarely questioned – the Hurricanes are prolific at throwing and scoring. The defense was solid last year, allowing 20.5 points a game, but the ’Canes, who host Crystal Lake South at 7 p.m. Friday at George Harding Field, feel they can be better.
“We have more experience and feel better prepared,” said senior Shane Kirwan, who moves from defensive tackle to linebacker. “Our defense is going to be stronger. I’m looking forward to getting after it.”
Marian started its past two seasons with resounding defensive performances against South, yielding no offensive points to the Gators in 31-0 and 28-2 victories. South averted a shutout last year because of a bad punt snap.
Wember, Kirwan and Mike Hartlieb will man the linebacker spots. Up front, end Matt Ricchiuto returns, and Gavin Dineen should provide a big presence inside. Sam Gibson, Issac McGuire, Karl Rude and Sebastian Soliz figure to be in the line rotation, while Johnny Churak is back at cornerback.
“[The defense] is a little bit of a question mark at a couple of spots,” Hurricanes coach Ed Brucker said. “We have a lot of kids working at them, we’ll see how they’ll do.”
Brucker wants to two-platoon as many players as possible and feels Marian has the depth to pull that off. Ultimately, Brucker hopes fresher players on defense will benefit the Hurricanes, who allowed the most points per game last season of Brucker’s 11 years as head coach.
Marian will need a strong defense as it competes in the East Suburban Catholic with the likes of Joliet Catholic, Nazareth, Niles Notre Dame, St. Viator and others.
“Our offense is a good offense, and we have a quarterback [Billy Bahl] who can throw,” Brucker said. “The defense is the main thing. A lot of times our defense is out there a lot if we go three-and-out with the passing game, it doesn’t take very long. I think we’ll be all right [on defense].”