Neuqua Valley’s defense was dangerously vulnerable at times last season, but that year of experience might be just what the Wildcats need as they pursue their first state championship.
Coincidentally, the last two Class 8A state champions, Mt. Carmel and Naperville Central, have ended Neuqua Valley’s seasons in the playoffs, in the 2012 semifinals and 2013 quarterfinals, respectively.
“I expect our defense to be much better than last year,” senior linebacker Derrek Warkenthien said. “We have seven or eight returning (players) who were juniors last year, so we were young. We’re light years from where we were last year. We’re older, much faster, and quicker with our decisions.”
The Wildcats were dominant last fall, but some leaks in the defense were exposed. The team only held two teams to single digits and allowed 20 or more points in all but three games.football, Neuqua Valley
Last season: 10-2 (6-0 Upstate Eight Valley).
Playoffs: Lost 47-18 to Naperville Central in 8A quarterfinals.
Coach: Bill Ellinghaus, 22-3, in third season at Neuqua Valley.
Players to watch: Famus Hasty, 5-10, 180, sr., DB; Kimani Mobley, 5-6, 160, sr., RB; Evan Moore, 6-2, 185, sr., WR; Dom Muoghalu, 5-9, 185, sr., RB; Isaiah Robertson, 6-3, 170, so., WR; Broc Rutter, 6-2, 195, sr., QB; Eli Tappin, 6-0, 170, sr., LB.
(x-denotes Upstate Eight Valley game; all games at 7:30 unless otherwise noted)
29, at Naperville North.
5, Naperville Central; 12, x-at Glenbard East; 20, x-at South Elgin, 1:30 p.m., 26, x-East Aurora, 7 p.m.
3, x-at West Aurora; 10, x-Bartlett; 17, x-Waubonsie Valley, 24, x-at Metea Valley.