Nazareth football season preview

2014 schedule
Aug. 30 Boomington 2 p.m.
Sept. 6 Riverside-Brookfield 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 at St. Patrick 11:00 a.m.
Sept. 20 Marian Central 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Marian Catholic 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Benet 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 Joliet Catholic 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 at Marist 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 St. Viattor 1 p.m.

Best game on the schedule:  Joliet Catholic at Nazareth, 1:30 p.m. Oct. 11

It wouldn’t be surprising if this Week 7 game wound up deciding the conference. The Hilltoppers steamrolled the ESCC last year, going 6-1 with their only loss coming to St. Patrick by a point.

Best-case scenario: The expectations are high at Nazareth. The Roadrunners exited the playoffs in the second round last year but they brought back loads of talent. “Obviously we want to win a state title,” Racki said. “I think the team chemistry is the most important thing, but it’s going to be our ability to overcome adversity. Lou Holtz said it best: ‘Every team is going to face three crises in a season.’ And it’s going to be how we react to that. Some teams crack and some teams rise above it.”

Best position group: The offensive line has the opportunity to be downright punishing, as evidenced by the Division I scholarships that have poured in. Senior twin brothers Pat (right guard) and John Kilcommons (right tackle) have offers to play at Dartmouth. Senior left tackle Jack Shutack has bids from Iowa State, North Carolina State, Minnesota, Rutgers and Western Michigan, while senior left guard Mike Owens is being recruited by Army and Western Michigan. “We have a huge luxury with our offensive line,” junior wide receiver/safety Julian Love said. “We’re looking to pound other teams with the run and then catch them off-guard with the pass. I think the line is going to be a huge advantage.”

Best playmaker: Senior wide receiver/safety Kevin Jackson is one of the fastest players on the team and also stands 6-foot-3, meaning he’ll be a big-time threat. “We know that at any moment in the game we can go deep to him and he’ll most likely get the catch,” Love said. “That’s a huge advantage for us. And on defense he’s right next to me.”

Best student-athlete: Julian Love will get plenty of playing time on both sides of the ball and he keeps just as busy off the field. He’s played the role of “Donkey” in a school production of “Shrek The Musical,” while consistently landing on the school’s honor roll. “He takes his school work very seriously and he’s just a great guy off the field,” Shutack said. “And on defense he’s one of our best defenders.”

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2013 record: 8-3, 4-2 in East Suburban Catholic

2013 playoffs: Lost 33-28 to Sycamore in second round of Class 5A

Head coach: Tim Racki, entering 10th year

Best season: In 2011, Nazareth (10-2) advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals before losing to Prairie Ridge 35-7


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