Super25 football countdown: No 14 Wheaton NorthWheaton North's Patrick Sharp breaks a long run in the second quarter Friday at Geneva.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 11, 2012 4:21PM
John Peltz and Patrick Sharp proved last season that they can be big-time playmakers for Wheaton North’s offense.
Now the new offensive linemen who will line up in front of the senior skill players hope to demonstrate they can give Peltz and Sharp the time to make more good things happen.
Wheaton North, which is No. 14 in the Sun-Times’ preseason Super 25, graduated all five starters and the top two reserves up front for an 8-3 team that played for the DuPage Valley Conference championship last fall.
“The O-line coach knows we’ve got some skilled kids [in the backfield],” Falcons coach Joe Wardynski said. “We’ve got to be able to screen them and shield them long enough so they can do things.”
Peltz, who threw for 2,030 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, has seen improvement through the summer.
“They do need some work,” the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder said. “[But] they practice against a very good defensive line, one of the best D-lines around here.”
Peltz, who also ran for 366 yards and eight scores last season, will be throwing to some new receivers this season.
“We had four seniors at those spots,” Wardynski said. “That was probably our best position group last year.”
Two potential targets include junior wide receiver Matt Biegalski (6-2, 175) and senior tight end Tom Colletti (6-2, 190).
Sharp, a 5-9, 185-pound running back, provides another dimension on offense.
“It calms your nerves,” Peltz said of having a runner of Sharp’s ability available. “A quarterback’s best friend is the defense and his running back.”
On defense, the Falcons will build around some returning starters, including ends Jonathan Chapman (6-2, 210) and Kellen Cleveland (6-4, 215) and backs Jaylen House (5-10, 175) and JD Marconi (5-11, 185).
“I’m optimistic about what they’ll be able to do,” Wardynski said. “We’ve got some athletic kids on the back end.”
The hope is that it will all add up to another good season for the Falcons, who have one of the state’s better football resumes with three state titles, an active streak of five straight trips to the IHSA playoffs and four postseason wins in the past three years.
But they still live somewhat in the shadow of the program across town, the Wheaton Warrenville South juggernaut that has won seven state titles since 1992. “That obviously is a big hurdle,” Wardynski said of the Tigers, who have lost just once to Wheaton North since 1988.
But the Falcons are focusing on the big picture, which looks bright.
“I told the kids ... that our goal is to qualify for the playoffs and try to get as good a seed as possible, win some games and play into November if possible,” Wardynski said. “If we stay healthy, I think it could be a good year.”