New Trier ready to begin Starkey era
New coach optimistic despite Trevians' inexperience, lack of size
NEW TRIER FOOTBALL PREVIEW
The New Trier football team was already going to have a completely new look with only one returning starter on offense and two on defense.
In February, there was another reason the Trevians would look different.
After guiding New Trier to back-to-back playoff berths, including a 5-5 finish last season, Matt Irvin stepped down as coach.
Dan Starkey has replaced Irvin after leading Glenbard South to consecutive 9-3 seasons culminating in trips to the Class 6A state quarterfinals.
Starkey brings with him a spread attack on offense, although New Trier’s defense is similar to what he ran at Glenbard South.
“We try to pride ourselves on taking what the defense gives us,” Starkey said when he got the job in April. “We try to take advantage of defensive alignments with either the run or the pass game. But we’ve probably been 60-40 run to pass.”
Starkey is trying to make sure the Trevians are fundamentally sound.
“The biggest thing I’m trying to instill is senior leadership and fundamentals of blocking and tackling,” Starkey said. “We’re trying to improve not only our team strength and team speed, but also our team fundamentals.”
Here’s a closer look at the Trevians:
Junior receiver Charlie Tilson is lone returning starter on the Trevians’ offense after hauling in 36 receptions for 381 yards and three touchdowns last year. He’ll lead a corps of receivers that Starkey believes is the strength of the offense.
“I think we’ve had some receivers have some good summers,” Starkey said. “Scott Schoder, our returning kicker, is also going to play receiver for us and he’s had a great summer. We’ve had another senior, Danny Smith, step up. He’s had a great summer and a great camp as well. Henry Falter played a lot last year, and he’s going to be a big leader for us as a tight end this year.”
Who will be getting the Trevians’ receivers the ball isn’t quite as clear. Starkey will have to decide between a pair of seniors, but Benji Cohen looks to have the slight advantage.
“We’re still working on it,” Starkey said. “He certainly seems to be the guy that has the most confidence and is performing pretty well. But we have another senior, Connor DeLoach, who is right there with him.”
Senior 6-foot, 200-pound running back Kevin Samuelson racked up 283 yards on 57 carries with two touchdowns last season as a reserve. He will be the starting fullback this season, while junior John Nykaza (6-2, 185) gets the nod at tailback.
New Trier’s all-new line will feature senior Chris Gluckman (6-3, 225) and junior Campbell Lipe (6-3, 210) at tackle, senior guards Scott Karras (5-11, 230) and Scott Southern (6-0, 205), junior center Casey Karnes (6-3, 230) and senior tight end Falter (6-3, 205).
"We don’t have any returning starters on our offensive line so that’s probably an area of concern for us,” Starkey said.
Starkey hopes that by the time they get into conference play, the starters will be more comfortable with the new scheme.
“It’s probably a lot closer to the system they learned under coach (coach Dan) Mortier as freshmen,” Starkey said. “It’s probably much different from what they’ve done the last two years under Coach Irvin. It’s going to take some time. Hopefully after our first two non conference games we have much better team chemistry on the offensive side of the ball and can find out what our strengths are.”
The transition should be smoother on defense, where Starkey uses a 3-4 formation that the Trevians and defensive coordinator Brent Becker are used to running. Still, New Trier will have to contend with being undersized on defense, with no starter weighing more than 210 pounds.
“The defense they ran at New Trier last year was very similar to the defense we ran at Glenbard South,” Starkey said. “So there were not wholesale changes really for our defensive players. Much of the terminology and coverage is the same.”
Through the preseason camp, four linebackers stood out to Starkey.
“The strength of our defense is probably with our linebackers,” Starkey said. “We have a returning starter in Scott Southern (6-0, 205) and another senior who looks like he’s going to have a great year for us and that’s Jack Montgomery (6-0, 205).”
“It’s very important to have senior leadership all over the field, but especially at linebacker on defense. Those guys really set the tone for how you play. We have a couple other senior linebackers doing a good job for us in Connor Casas (6-0, 185) and Taylor McGinnis (5-10, 190).”
Senior defensive back Chris Kennedy (5-7, 160) joins Southern as the only other returning defensive starter. He will be rejoined in the secondary by senior Jack Piermarini (5-9, 170), who missed last season with a knee injury but has already impressed Starkey.
“He has really shown a lot of leadership and confidence for us on defense right now,” Starkey said.
Senior Jay Blackman (6-1, 205) and juniors Sam Scherer (6-0, 200) and Nick Hedge (6-2, 210) will be in the mix to start on the line for a defense that will try to achieve some lofty goals.
“Defensively we’d like to get three takeaways and have less than 10 percent of missed tackles,” Starkey said. “Those are things we’ll really try to hang our hat on.”
With so many new starters, Starkey knows what he’ll be getting out of his placekicker and return man.
“Scott Schoder could be one of the top kickers in the area,” Starkey said. “Charlie Tilson returned punts and kicks last year. I think he could have a fantastic year and be one of the top special teams guys in the area.”
Tilson returned nine kickoffs for 270 yards and one touchdown and eight punts for 102 yards.
With a new coach, new system and plenty of new starters, New Trier figures to be a team that make strides each week. The Trevians, who return only three starters and are undersized on defense, get an early indication where they stand in their season opener at area-ranked Warren.
Even though New Trier might be a work in progress, Starkey is thinking big in his first season.
“I’m a big believer in setting our expectations high,” Starkey said. “Our goal is to win a conference championship each year. I know that this year it will be difficult with Maine South’s talent and the years Glenbrook South has been having. The other schools are also looking for the opportunity to move up in the conference as well. We want to win the conference championship, but I obviously understand it will be a difficult task in a great conference.”
NEW TRIER AT A GLANCE
COACH: Dan Starkey (1st season at New Trier, 37-26 career record)
2009 RESULTS: 5-5 record overall, 3-2 in Central Suburban League South (3rd place); Lost to Stevenson 28-7 in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs
QB: Benji Cohen 6-0, 165 Sr.
RB: John Nykaza 6-2, 185 Jr.
FB: Kevin Samuelson 6-0, 200 Sr.
WR: Charlie Tilson 5-11, 175 Sr.
WR: Scott Schoder 6-1, 185 Sr.
WR: Danny Smith 6-1, 160 Jr.
TE: Henry Falter 6-3, 205 Sr.
LT: Chris Gluckman 6-3, 225 Sr.
LG: Scott Karras 5-11, 230 Sr.
C: Casey Karnes 6-3, 230 Jr.
RG: Scott Southern 6-0, 205 Sr.
RT: Campbell Lipe 6-3, 210 Jr.
DL: Jay Blackman 6-1, 205 Sr.
DL: Sam Scherer 6-0, 200 Jr.
DL: Nick Hedge 6-2, 210 Jr.
LB: Connor Casas 6-0, 185 Sr.
LB: Scott Southern 6-0, 205 Sr.
LB: Jack Montgomery 6-0, 205 Sr.
LB: Taylor McGinnis 5-10, 190 Sr.
CB: Chris Kennedy 5-7, 160 Sr.
CB: Thomas Merriman 5-10, 170 Sr.
FS: Peter Reilly 5-11, 180 Sr.
SS: Jack Piermarini 5-9, 170 Sr.
K: Scott Schoder 6-1, 185 Sr.
P: Kevin Samuelson 6-0, 200 Sr.
KR/PR: Charlie Tilson 5-11, 175 Sr.
Aug. 27: at Warren, 7:30 p.m
Sept. 3: St. Patrick, 7:30 p.m
Sept. 10: Glenbrook North, 7:30 p.m
Sept. 16: at Maine East, 7:30 p.m
Sept. 24: Glenbrook South, 7:30 p.m
Oct. 1: at Niles West, 7 p.m
Oct. 8: Evanston, 7:30 p.m
Oct: 16: at Waukegan, 1:30 p.m
Oct. 22: at Maine South, 7 p.m