After graduating seven of 11 defensive starters, the Illinois Valley Central football team is ready to return to the gridiron Friday when they battle the rival Dunlap Eagles.
“I think that’s the neat thing about high school football, that you have a new team every year,” coach Tim Heinz said. “I really don’t know what to expect out of them but I hope they do great. We have been practicing hard and I hope they are sick of practice and ready to get into the game.”
Senior quarterback Sherrarr Tate will need to air the ball out to keep defensive pressure off the running back corps of Jessie Hall, Jake Innis and Tommy Jenkins, who will look to churn out yards on the ground.
“We need to try to control the line of scrimmage and not turn the ball over,” Heinz said. “We also need to get on a good track of converting third down and short yardage situations.”
The Ghost offensive line will have its hands full with blocking the Eagle defensive line and creating holes for the running backs.
“Usually they are a base 3-4 team,” Heinz said. “They have good defenders and are able to adjust to formations.”
Defensively, the Ghosts will have to keep pressure on new Eagle quarterback Conner Currier to stop him from lighting the Ghosts’ defensive backs up like Logan Schrader did last season at Dunlap as IVC lost, 35-7.
“Typically they like to spread the ball out,” Heinz said. “They usually run and try to work in spread throws. I think they are going to do a lot of the same type of things that they did when we played them last year.”
The Eagles also feature a strong offensive line that the Ghosts will need to compensate for to keep the Dunlap running backs from ripping off long runs.
The team plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home.
“We need to be able to control their running game and try to make them one-dimensional,” Heinz said. “We also have to do a good job of tackling to limit their yards after the catch.”