Football: Different look for Coal City
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
The obvious difference in Coal City’s attack in the fall will be the absence of Cody Onsen and Matt Halloran. The record-shattering, highlight-reel passing combination has graduated.
“They accounted for 57 touchdowns,” noted Coalers coach Lenny Onsen, whose team finished 9-2 and dropped a Class 4A second-round playoff game to Stillman Valley 28-13.
The Coalers participated in the recent University of St. Francis 7-on-7 Passing Jamboree, and the battle to replace Cody Onsen under center was in full swing.
While junior Brennen Shetina may be the early leader, with an eye on starting the huge opener at Wilmington, senior Dylan Hakey and sophomore Jack Dibble are in the mix.
“We have very good competition there,” Lenny Onsen said. “We’re looking to do different things with them.”
Nick Peters, a 6-foot-6 junior who caught the winning 20-yard touchdown pass from Cody Onsen late in last year’s 20-14 victory over Wilmington, will be a primary receiver. Matt Burchfield is back at tight end.
Where the Coalers may be improved offensively is in the running game.
“We went to the spread last year but we want to do some things to control the ball,” Lenny Onsen said. “Last year we had a lot of big plays with Cody and Matt (Halloran).
“Our running backs this year should be better with Mark Norton, Ryland Tondini, Allen Potter and Dibble, too. Our numbers are very good. We have 24 in the senior class this year. Last year we had 10.”
Those numbers may prove a godsend.
“We’ll have some guys on both sides of the ball, but we know we are stronger if we are two-platoon,” Onsen said.
The Coalers return nine defensive starters, including three-year starter Nate Natyshok at linebacker and three-year starter Burchfield at end. Hakey is a three-year starter at safety, and bookend corners Mike and Jake Czaja are back.
“It was nice to have a bounceback year last year, and I feel good about this group,” Onsen said.