Super 25 football countdown: No 21 Prairie RidgePrairie Ridge players celebrate as time runs out in their Class 6A IHSA Quarterfinal Football Playoff win over Nazareth Academy at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake Saturday afternoon. November 12, 2011. Prairie Ridge won the game 35-7. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 4, 2012 10:04PM
Sean Folliard is the exception, rather than the rule, for Prairie Ridge this season.
The Northern Illinois-bound linebacker is a recognizable name, a veteran of the Wolves’ run to the Class 6A title last fall.
Many of his teammates from that 13-1 club have graduated and two more — running back Jordan Getzelman and linebacker Nick Lanaski — won’t be back, either. Getzelman, one of the stars of the title-game win over Peoria Richwoods and a backfield mainstay along with then-seniors Connor Greenwald and Nick Nissen, is preparing for his college baseball career at Missouri. Lanaski is expected to miss the 2012 season after suffering a broken vertebra.
“Getz and Nick were a huge part of our team last year,” said Folliard, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior. “Obviously we’re bringing in a whole new backfield ... [but] I’ve got a lot of trust in those guys. ... Defensively, we lost a lot of big names and some leaders. It’s going to be a really big team effort.”
For all that, the Wolves — who are No. 21 in the Sun-Times’ preseason Super 25 — do have several key veterans back. And last year’s backups not only got to practice for 14 weeks, many saw a good amount of game action.
“We had most of the guys who are going to be playing this year — they’ve had reps against elite athletes,” Folliard said. “Our offense was super explosive; [the reserves] got a lot of playing time in the third and fourth quarter.”
Prairie Ridge’s offense will rebuild around two returning starters on the line: juniors Shane Evans and Bennett Tomlin.
In the backfield, players to watch include senior Kingsley Ebirim and junior Steven Ladd. “He’s a ball of muscle,” Wolves coach Chris Schremp said of Ebirim. “He’s a tough little kid — not little, but short in stature [at 5-5].”
Junior Oliver Kremer, the starting quarterback for Prairie Ridge’s sophomore team last season, will take over for Nissen as the guy at the controls of the Wolves’ offense.
“With the option, it’s running back by committee,” Schremp said. “We’ve got four [backs] who are good football players.”
Back as starters on defense are Folliard in the secondary, senior Nathan Kirchberg at linebacker and junior end Austin Nirva.
Despite the relative lack of experience, the Wolves aren’t lowering their goals — not after reaching two state semifinals and winning one title since 2009.
“I’ve got a group of kids that have high expectations,” Schremp said.
“Every class that comes in wants to make a name for themselves, wants to make a mark on high school history,” Folliard said.