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Local

Football is just around the corner

Nathan Korte is one of four returning starters on the Morris offensive line heading into this season.
Nathan Korte is one of four returning starters on the Morris offensive line heading into this season.

It can’t be that close, can it?

I know time flies, but this is ridiculous. It seems like just a week or two ago, we were saying goodbye to high school sports for the summer.

Now, I look up and EdgyTim is all up in my Twitter feed, telling me that it’s only 43 days until the kickoff of the IHSA football season.

Forty-three days. In some ways, that is quite a long time. In the Book of Genesis, it took less time than that to flood the world. In high school football days, though, it is not very much time at all.

Ask any coach and they will say they wish they had more time. But coaches always wish they had more time to prepare. Players, they just want to play.

Which leads us to this. All four area football teams open up on Aug. 25. As of now, they are all 0-0. What will the upcoming season hold for Morris, Coal City, Minooka and Seneca? First of all, the Morris Redskins are still in the NIB 12. The next vote on whether the Interstate Eight Conference will accept them as a member is scheduled for Aug. 8.

As far as the football season goes, it’s a case of size matters for Morris. Most of the starting offensive line from last year returns, and they are huge. Center Nolan Feeney, guard Brennan Goff and tackle Nathan Korte all are either at or knocking on the door of 300 pounds, and they can all move very well for their size.

Throw in junior Dylan Swartz, who started last year as a sophomore, and that’s a lot of experience and talent up front for offensive coordinator Greg Larsen to use as a building block.

The Morris defense should be up to its usual standards, with returning starters such as Kaden Laurie, Kameron Dransfeldt and Payton Voitik. If this does happen to be Morris’ last year in the NIB 12, they would like to leave it as the champion, something they have not been able to accomplish yet.

While Morris returns familiar names on the field, Coal City welcomes back a couple of familiar faces on the sideline, albeit in reversed roles.

Before the recently retired Lenny Onsen took over, Ken W. Miller was the head coach and Dan Hutchings was his offensive coordinator. This year, Hutchings will be the head coach and he has asked Miller to return to the sideline as the offensive coordinator.

With that combination back in action, look for the Coalers to be a bit more imaginative on offense while still playing the type of physical defense that has been their hallmark for the last three decades.

Minooka welcomes a new head coach as well, with Terry McCombs taking over. With so many quality teams in the Southwest Prairie Conference, and playing a conference-only schedule, the task of returning to the playoffs will be a tough one. But a coaching change can bring renewed enthusiasm and that may be enough to get Minooka over that playoff hump.

Seneca is in its last season as a member of the Interstate Eight, as they will leave for the Tri-Valley Conference for football and wrestling next year and the Sangamon Valley for all other sports. Coach Ted O’Boyle and his Fighting Irish would like nothing better than to leave the Interstate Eight Small with a playoff berth in hand.

Will all four teams make the playoffs? Time will tell.

• Rob Oesterle is the senior sports writer for the Morris Herald-News. He can be reached at roesterle@shawmedia.com.

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