Football: Wilmington gearing up for Coal CitySean Liaromatis, from Wilmington, throws with his team during a USF 7-on-7 passing league at Memorial Stadium in Joliet, IL on Wednesday June 13, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
One in an occasional series on Joliet-area athletes and teams gearing up for the 2012-13 high school season.
Updated: July 28, 2012 6:15AM
Wilmington coach Jeff Reents calls it “one of the biggest openers Wilmington has had.”
To the football fanatics in Wilmington and neighboring Coal City, the Aug. 24 collision is nothing short of Army-Navy.
If revenge matters, the Wildcats have a plus on their side of the ledger. Last season, Coal City quarterback Cody Onsen, known far and wide as an outstanding passer, brought the Coalers back with his legs in the fourth quarter before completing the game-winning 20-yard touchdown pass to then-sophomore Nick Peters with 3:18 remaining as Coal City prevailed 20-14.
In the 2012 season, the experienced quarterback in the showdown will be wearing purple, and yes, Sean Liaromatis is faring quite nicely this summer.
“Sean has come a long way,” Reents said during the recent University of St. Francis 7-on-7 Passing Jamboree. “He went through growing pains as a junior. I’m pleased with how he has stepped up. So far, he has had a real good camp.
“Of course, he has high expectations for himself. His brother Steve (now a linebacker at North Central) was the same way.”
Liaromatis smiled when asked how he enjoys the 7-on-7s.
“They’re fun,” he said. “We come here and throw the ball a lot.”
That’s something Wilmington, which runs from a double-wing, does not normally do. The Wildcats’ trademark is an explosive running game.
“It’s no secret we want to run the ball,” Reents said. “But if the defense knows we are a threat to pass, it will help our play-action game.
“One of Sean’s (Liaromatis’) strengths is he can change plays at the line of scrimmage, change to a pass play.”
Liaromatis is a three-sport standout, also competing in wrestling and baseball.
“I wrestled at 152 last season and did OK,” Liaromatis said. “But what I would like to do in college is play baseball.” He is a center fielder and pitcher.
But first things first. There is a certain rival invading Wilmington for the season football opener.
“I like starting the season against Coal City, and it’s at home,” Liaromatis said. “They absolutely are big rivals. That game is always hard-hitting.”
Liaromatis quarterbacked Wilmington to a 7-4 season in 2011. The Wildcats were ousted from the Class 3A playoffs in a 14-7 overtime loss to Winnebago in Round 2.
“We hope to keep building from there,” Reents said. “We have really good depth, which creates competition. We hope to have a few more guys go one way only than we have in the past, but that’s something that will be decided in August.”
All-Interstate Eight linebacker Chris Tworek averaged more than 100 rushing yards over the last four games and will be a primary running back. Mike Wolfe, a returning starter at defensive back, will see time in the offensive backfield, and Reents called him “a weapon on special teams.”
The defense returns several key players, and the Wildcats sophomores were undefeated a year ago.
“We made a nice run and got into the quarterfinals a couple years there. Now we’re aiming at getting past that second round,” Reents said. “That’s what we want to do.”
“Our goal is always to be playing in Week 14 (state finals),” Liaromatis said. “We’re more experienced this year, so we’re looking forward to giving it our best shot.”