ALGONQUIN – On a team that graduated only 10 seniors from a year ago, there aren’t many unfamiliar faces. Jacobs football returns much of the same roster that led it to an IHSA Class 7A state quarterfinal appearance last season.
But one new kid on the block will be setting up under center: junior quarterback Anthony Wilson.
Wilson takes over for the graduated Chris Katrenick, who is now a freshman quarterback at Duke.
“The last two years I’ve been learning from Chris,” Wilson said. “[I was] working with the twos, learning the offense and getting the reads down.”
This year, the 6-foot, 180-pound Wilson will have the ball in his hands on Friday nights.
Katrenick leaves behind big shoes to fill. During his senior year, Katrenick threw for 2,176 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions, completing 52.6 percent of his passes.
His passing yardage and passing touchdowns were both second in the area behind Hampshire’s Jake Vincent.
Even with Katrenick’s abilities, the Golden Eagles found the most success late in the year when they shifted to a run-heavy approach.
Jacobs lost to McHenry in Week 5 to drop to 2-3 overall. Senior wide receiver John Farrissey said that game is when things changed.
“At halftime of the McHenry game, we were struggling throwing the ball,” Farrissey said. “[The change] was to try to get some momentum. We’ve always had [power running] in. It was more like goal-line stuff.
“We were trying to get some momentum, and it was like, ‘This is really working, let’s just stick to it.’ ”
Jacobs was much more competitive in the second half of that game, however it lost, 33-28. Running back Loren Strickland ran for 119 yards on 20 carries.
Coach Bill Mitz and his staff liked the power-running approach so much that they stuck with it. Jacobs rattled off wins in five of the next six games before a quarterfinal loss to Fenwick, 28-21.
So what will things look like this year?
“We’re going to do a little bit of both,” Farrissey said. “A little bit of power offense, a little bit of spreading them out and throwing it.”
Strickland (5-10, 190) returns after running for 802 yards and eight touchdowns on 136 carries last year. Also returning is David Butros (5-8, 175), who ran for 511 yards and three touchdowns on 75 carries.
Farrissey caught 46 passes last year for 594 yards and three touchdowns. He will be a top target for Wilson. He likes what he has seen from his new QB, too.
“[He’s] really accurate,” Farrissey said. “Does a really good job throwing the ball. Seems to always know who to throw to, knows where guys are going to be open, what routes, when to throw it.”
Wilson said he’s made the most improvement in knowing how to read the defense and making the right reads.
Wilson likes how the offense is shaping up, especially the guys up front. He noted that the offensive line — led by Southern Illinois commit Jimmy Wormsley — is “really good.” He also likes that there are plenty of experienced teammates he can lean on.
“They’ve been through it, and they know,” Wilson said. “They went on a run last year, and they want to do it again.”