Nykaza moves to QB, healthy Perlmutter returns at RB to lead Trevians
NEW TRIER FOOTBALL PREVIEW
After qualifying for the state playoffs in Dan Starkey’s first year as head coach, New Trier’s players and coaching staff have eased into more of a comfort zone. Players and staff are more familiar with the offensive and defensive systems favored by Starkey, who guided the Trevians to a 5-5 finish last year, including a 21-0 loss to Stevenson in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.
New Trier senior Jack Nykaza switches from running back to his more natural quarterback position this season. (Photo by Nic Summers www.SportsStarPhotos.com)
“We want to build the program to winning championships. We hope to build it and win a state championship someday. Our goal this year is to win more games during the regular season to get a higher seed and give us a better opportunity to win in the playoffs. We’ll try to position ourselves to succeed that way.”
One of the more intriguing moves Starkey and his staff made was to promote three sophomore linemen – Rijad Pekmez (6-foot-1, 290 pounds), Mike Foy (6-1, 205) and John Polydoris (6-2, 225) – to the varsity.
It’s the first time in at least 20 years that many sophomores have earned spots on the varsity from the start of preseason workouts. Pekmez is expected to start at nose tackle on defense and Foy should be in the mix to earn playing time on offense. Both Foy and Polydoris played on the sophomore team as freshmen, so this move is by design of the coaching staff.
“They’re all gung-ho and excited about the opportunity to play varsity football,” Starkey said. “Pekmez is one of the strongest kids in the program and he had a pretty good summer from a conditioning standpoint. Adding some size is a big part of the reason we moved them up. Their (physical) strength is already on a par with the other varsity linemen and we think they’re going to contribute a lot for us.”
Here’s how New Trier will line up coming out of preseason practice:
Any resemblance of the 2011 New Trier offense and the offense the Trevians ran in 2010 will be purely coincidental, except for the fact that Jack Nykaza will have his hands on the ball a lot again this year. Nykaza is switching back to his more natural position, quarterback, and should provide the passing threat that New Trier lacked a year ago.
Between two bouts of mononucleosis endured by the team’s No. 1 running back, Josh Perlmutter, plus a separated shoulder suffered by star receiver Charlie Tilson, by halfway through the fall campaign the Trevians’ offense was pretty much limited to running Nykaza left, right and up the middle out of the tailback slot. Starkey and Co. will be seeking a more balanced attack this year.
“We spent a lot of time in the summer working on our passing game, and I think we’ll be more multiple this year,” Starkey said. “We’re going to try to spread people out a little more. Jack has a very strong arm and he’s getting better every day with his reads. We’ll use a lot of play action and (bootleg) looks to get him on the move more.”
A healthy Perlmutter will be, in Starkey’s words, “our Devin Hester. Right now his value starts playing cornerback on defense and returning kicks. He’s bigger (6-0, 195) than our other defensive backs so he can match up better against bigger receivers. He’ll also play a slot receiver and running back. He’ll be on the field a lot.”
New Trier's Josh Perlmutter is back at running back after enduring two bouts with mononucleosis last season. (Photo by Nic Summers www.SportsStarPhotos.com)
Nykaza proved he could make all the necessary throws during 7-on-7 summer competition and he has some good targets in junior Devin Boehm and senior Christian Carr, although neither started last year.
Another target is 5-8 senior Will Fitzgerald. At tight end, 6-4 senior Eric Benjamin is a physical enough blocking force and also has the speed and good hands to stretch opposing defenses in the passing game.
Senior center Casey Karnes (6-3, 240) and junior tackles Tom Maentz (6-5, 215) and Campbell Lipe (6-3, 220) are returning starters in the offensive line. Maentz moved up midway through the season from the sophomore ranks last year. Others challenging for playing time include senior Ethan Smith, senior Eric Goldner, junior Perry Nitiss, senior Andrew Porter and Foy.
Junior Grant Amick will handle the place-kicking chores.
If it’s what’s up front that counts, the Trevians should be in great shape against the run. Returning starters Nick Hedge (6-2, 210) and Lipe will line up on opposite sides of Pekmez – his nickname is “Pac Man” – and help also will come on the interior from senior Brian Ball (5-9, 205), junior Jack Buckingham (6-1, 205) and junior Kevin Keene (6-1, 185).
At inside linebacker, senior Sam Scherer (6-1, 215) provides leadership and sure tackling as a returning starter. Classmate Jack O’Malley (5-11, 195) is moving inside after starting at outside linebacker last year. Filling in at outside linebacker will be a group that includes senior Sam Coffey (6-1, 195), Amick (6-0, 200), junior Michael Welch (6-3, 205) and senior Macrae Wimer (6-1, 190).
Perlmutter heads a defensive backfield that also includes seniors Matt Quinlan (5-9, 1690) and Will Caffery (5-9, 165), plus safeties Chris Hall (6-2, 190), Max Kraus (6-0, 180) and Trent Peters (6-1, 180).
The Trevians stumbled to a 2-3 record in Central Suburban League South play last fall, so the first place Starkey’s squad can make progress is to move up in the league standings. That won’t be easy because three straight games will be played on the road against Glenbrook South, Niles West and Evanston. New Trier is tired of being the answer to a trivia question, namely which school in the conference was the last one to win a league title besides Maine South? The answer is New Trier back in 2000.
NEW TRIER AT A GLANCE
COACH: Dan Starkey (2nd season)
2010 RESULTS: 5-5 record overall, 2-3 in CSL South; lost to Stevenson 21-0 first round of Class 8A state playoffs
RETURNING STARTERS: 8; 4 offense, 4 defense
PROBABLE STARTERS/KEY RESERVES (returning starters in bold)
QB: Jack Nykaza 6-2, 195 Sr.
FB: Andrew Hrabe 6-1, 210 Sr.
TB: Josh Perlmutter 6-0, 195 Sr.
TB: Daniel Olaniyan 5-11, 200 Jr.
TB: Michael Thomas 5-11, 185 Jr.
LT: Tom Maentz 6-5, 215 Jr.
LG: Ethan Smith 6-0, 220 Sr.
C: Casey Karnes 6-3, 240 Sr.
RG: Eric Goldner 6-1, 200 Sr.
RG: Perry Nitiss 5-11, 230 Jr.
RG: Andrew Porter 5-11, 215 Sr.
RT: Campbell Lipe 6-3, 220 Sr.
RT: Mike Foy 6-1, 205 So.
TE: Eric Benjamin 6-4, 215, Sr.
TE: Nick Hedge 6-2, 210 Sr.
WR: Christian Carr 6-1, 175 Sr.
WR: Devin Boehm 6-0, 175 Jr.
WR: Will Fitzgerald 5-8, 165 Sr.
DL: Nick Hedge 6-2, 210 Sr.
DL: Rijad Pekmez 6-1, 290 So.
DL: Campbell Lipe 6-3, 220, Sr.
DL: Jack Buckingham 6-1, 205 Jr.
DL: Kevin Keene 6-1, 185 Jr.
DL: Brian Ball 5-9, 205 Sr.
ILB: Jack O’Malley 5-11, 195 Sr
ILB: Sam Scherer 6-1, 215 Sr.
OLB: Sam Coffey 6-1, 195 Sr.
OLB: Grant Amick 6-0, 200 Jr.
OLB: Michael Welch 6-3, 205 Jr.
OLB: Macrae Wimer 6-1, 190 Sr.
DB: Josh Perlmutter 6-0, 195 Sr.
DB: Matt Quinlan 5-9, 160 Sr.
DB: Will Caffery 5-9, 165 Sr.
S: Chris Hall 6-2, 190 Sr.
S: Max Kraus 6-0, 180 Sr.
S: Trent Peters 6-1, 180 Jr.
Aug. 26: Schaumburg, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2: at Warren, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9: at Highland Park, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16: Maine West, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: Maine South*, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30: at Glenbrook South*, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6: at Niles West*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14: at Evanston*, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21: Waukegan*, 7:30 p.m.