Football: Deerfield looking for more conference glory
Quarteback Ben Ethridge avoids the rush and fires a pass during Friday night's intrasquad game at Paul Adams Field. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:52AM
Deerfield High School is looking to repeat last year’s Central Suburban League North football title, as the Warriors swept all five of their conference games by double digits.
But with key losses to graduation on offense, and based upon the improvement of Glenbrook North and Highland Park, the conference race should be wide open.
“We’re very excited about the season,” said Deerfield coach Steve Winiecki. “Last year, we had only one player back on defense, and this year it’s one on offense.”
Senior defensive back/slotback Jacob Balder, arguably one of the top players in the conference, is confident that his team will deliver another strong performance.
“We think we have a good shot at winning conference again,” Balder said. “Everyone is hungry for another championship.”
Moving the sticks: With 10 of his 2011 starters graduated, Winiecki will have a lot of tinkering to do, but he knows the offense is in good hands behind senior center David Vanderkloot, one of the CSL North’s top lineman. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder will key the Warriors’ run-oriented, veer offensive attack.
“Although there were some positions up in the air, there’s good camaraderie and everyone is paying attention to detail,” Vanderkloot said. “We’re all excited about getting out there.”
Supporting Vanderkloot on the line will be seniors Casey Spiwak and Louis Levine.
Senior signal caller Matt Kollada will guide the Navy/Georgia Tech-like ground assault, which averages only a handful of passes.
“Matt runs the offense very well,” Winiecki said. “He’s a strong runner who makes great decisions.”
The backfield will be spearheaded by junior fullback Alec Frank. Opposing defenses tend to key on the quarterback sprints and pitches, giving the Warriors’ fullbacks an opportunity to break long runs. When Kollada gets to the outside, he’ll look to pitch to junior slotback Sam Modro and sophomore Alex Williams.
“In order for our offense to work, we have to get good blocking from our receivers and tight end,” Winiecki said.
Junior Dominic DiBenedetto will play tight end, while seniors Ethan Cohen and Ben Weiss will look to open holes from their receiving positions.
Making the stops: Winiecki welcomes back seven returnees to a team that allowed only 10 points per contest in conference play a year ago.
“We have a lot of speed. Everyone runs well,” Winiecki said. “We also play very physical on defense.”
One of the most physical players is Balder, a 5-11, 180-pound strong safety. Besides sure-tackling abilities, Balder showed his speed last year by blocking three punts and two point-after attempts.
“Jacob is our pivot point for everything we do on defense,” Winiecki said. “He makes everyone better out there.”
Added Balder: “We have great team chemistry. We really push each other.”
Other returnees include seniors Michael Maki, Tom Bonadies and Cohen at linebacker, and seniors Tim Shanley and Brett Freedberg in the secondary. Winiecki said that senior Pat Johnson should be an explosive force on the defense line. He will be joined by senior returnee Brian McCann, along with Levine, in getting after opposing offenses.
Special forces: Maki returns to handle kicking and punting duties. He tied a school record last year with a 43-yard field goal. His strong foot should help Deerfield net advantageous field position.
“We’re going to be very, very good on special teams,” Winiecki said. “The entire unit, not just Maki.”~