Coach: Matt Lynch (ninth season, 16-56)
Last year’s record: 5-4 overall, 3-4 (fifth place BNC East)
Fast fact: Last season was Marengo’s first winning season since 2004, but the Indians missed the playoffs with only 36 points playoff points (opponents’ wins), four shy of the cutoff.
• Between its top four returning skill position players, Marengo returns more than 2,000 yards of offense. Speedy Jarrell Jackson accounts for more than 800: He rushed for 518 yards on 66 carries and caught 26 passes for 352 yards last year. Kyle Gara, who had 448 rushing yards on 71 attempts, will be back to fortify the running game. Leading receiver Craiton Nice, who had 549 yards on 41 catches, also will return, along with Adam Roudabush (16 catches for 153 yards).
• Last year, the Indians installed a new offense. After the team won five games with the new system, team members say that practices this summer were more fast-paced now that players were used to it. “I think we’ve all got a little more confidence,” said senior lineman Andrew Anderson. “We all know the offense. It was new last year, and we’ve fine-tuned parts of the offense this year. We all know our jobs a little bit better.”
• After Ethan Walsweer graduated, Marengo opened fall practice with the quarterback spot up for grabs. Lynch savored the competition: “Competition is a wonderful thing. It breeds the best, and it brings the best out in people, no matter whether you’re playing high school football or you’re lining up in the corporate world and you’re competing with a colleague – it don’t matter.” Two players to watch at the position: Kurt McMackin, last year’s backup, and Zach Knobloch, who started six games at QB his sophomore season but took his junior year off to focus on hoops.
• Seven Marengo seniors – Nice, TE/LB Drake Stavroplos, Jackson, Gara, WR/DB Brandon Temple and linemen Dylan Turner and Kwinn Velasquez – are entering their third year on varsity. Players feel the familiarity will help. “We had a lot of kids on varsity as sophomores. We’re all pretty experienced,” Gara said. “We just keep working. We’re ready for it.”
• Although Marengo is playing its final season in the Big Northern East before bolting to the new Kishwaukee River Conference in 2016, Lynch said he loves the BNC. “One of the best conferences in the state of Illinois, one of the best conferences I’ve had the pleasure of coaching in,” Lynch said. “I love it to pieces. It’s a great challenge every week.”
What makes them better
Lynch, who played for Dundee-Crown and Illinois State in his own playing days, strongly feels that football is a brotherhood. “The time you spend as a football player with your boys in that locker room, this practice field, those weight rooms – that builds the bond. That bond is unbreakable.” While he says much of his team’s chemistry comes from the vast amount of time players spend on team activities, the Indians embarked on a less traditional bonding trip to Wisconsin Dells. “It was a really good time,” Gara said. “No football. We went up there, the whole team. Freshmen got to bond with seniors. Everybody got to hang out together. It was a lot of fun.”
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 28 @ Byron 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 @ Rock Falls 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 Genoa-Kingston* 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 @ Richmond-Burton* 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 Harvard* 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 @ Burlington Central* 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 Johnsburg* 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 @ Rockford Christian* 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 North Boone* 7 p.m.
*–BNC East Division game