CRYSTAL LAKE – At this point, Dominic Collado is a veteran.
“The young vet,” coach Rob Fontana said of the junior, a third-year starter.
The Gators' offensive line this fall features a number of vets, young and old. Once again, South figures to have one of the biggest offensive lines in the area, including a pair of Division I recruits in Collado and Trevor Keegan.
“We’ve got some seniors that have really busted their butt,” Fontana said. “With a guy like Trevor, he obviously takes the limelight away from everybody else, but Nick Morrissey is a guy that has played and started for us for two and a half seasons already. Ethan Greenspan did a lot for us last year.”
Keegan (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) enters his fourth year on varsity and has scholarship offers from all across the country. Last month he narrowed his list to six: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Collado (6-4, 290) has offers from Western Michigan, Central Michigan and South Dakota State.
The duo will likely be joined by seniors Morrissey (6-0, 235) and Greenspan (5-11, 270) as well as junior Jack Turner (6-2, 285).
Keegan, Collado, Morrissey and Greenspan all have previous varsity experience.
“The whole offensive line has chemistry together,” Collado said. “We’re all big guys. Ethan Greenspan, Nick Morrissey, we don’t have to worry about those guys. They know what they’re doing.”
Turner, entering his first season on varsity full time, didn’t play football until his freshman year. The Canada native has dual citizenship and primarily focused on hockey growing up. His family moved from the Toronto area when he was young.
It was one of his hockey coaches who suggested he try football, too. The toughest thing was getting used to staying in a squat stance for so long.
“Now I’m used to it,” Turner said. “It’s second nature, but it was definitely hard getting down in that stance and holding it.”
Collado feels more responsibility to mentor some of the younger players, like Keegan did for him over the past few seasons. Greenspan has enjoyed watching the younger Collado blossom into a leader and improve his technique on the field.
“Dom’s been looking great,” Greenspan said. “He’s always had that size, but he’s really coming together, become a great lineman. It’s been fun. We work out outside of school together. He’s been making leaps and bounds.”
Fontana said the linemen have worked hard to learn multiple positions. Who will play where is more dependent on what the opponent’s defense brings to the table.
The coach knows he has a big offensive line, but so do plenty of other teams across the Fox Valley Conference.
“We’ve been fortunate to have guys of that size that have wandered in our door,” Fontana said. “I hope we don’t have to face a line that size.”
With so much firepower returning, the Gators' line could be its biggest strength come Week 1. South looks to improve on a 3-6 finish last season.
“Every school has big guys,” Turner said. “It’s a matter of strength and knowledge in the game and listening to the coaches and what they want you to do.”