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Saints' strength, speed should shine.

Byline: Jerry Fitzpatrick

St. Charles East football is going to look a bit different this season.

For the first time in three years, the Saints will not be able to rely on now-graduated Justin Jett, a dependable all-area fullback who last year led the triple option offense in carries (142), rushing yards (792) and touchdowns (8).

In fact, the offense will sport a slightly different look altogether, thanks to the input of new assistant coach Chuck Abate, a former Burlington Central assistant who fifth-year Saints coach Bryce Farquhar called his co-offensive coordinator.

"Our personnel has definitely shifted the last few years so we've adjusted our option football," Farquhar said. "Our philosophies are still the same. Coach Abate has brought a lot of great ideas and has put a lot in to what we've done, but we're still an option team when it comes down to it."

Regardless of scheme, the coaching staff has some solid returning players to rely on, beginning with Wisconsin-bound guard Dylan Barrett, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound senior. He is rejoined on the line by Alex Cox (6-3,275), a fellow third-year varsity starter his coach thinks is underrated.

"Technically, Al Cox is one of the best linemen in our conference," Farquhar said. "He doesn't have the same physical traits as Dylan, but he is a great lineman. It's really been a blessing to have both of those guys."

The line is further fortified by the return of senior Eduardo Mancera (6-3, 260). Junior Brock Donati (6-2, 260) will play center.

That front will protect returning quarterback BJ Crossen (6-2, 185). Last season he threw for 753 yards and 7 touchdowns on 30-of-50 passing (52.6%). He was also the Saints' second-leading rusher with 487 yards and 7 touchdowns on 93 carries. Crossen's coach said the senior has put himself in position to be successful with the hard work he put in during the off-season.

Multisport athletes Cole Conn and Clay Conn will play in the backfield in some capacity. Last year Cole carried 43 times for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns. Clay gained 61 yards in 10 attempts. The speedy twins are two of many reasons Farquhar said overall team speed is a team strength.

Senior wide receivers Nathan Hull (6-3, 160) and Gino Cerrone (5-11, 180) add to that team speed and provide Crossen with targets. Hull last season caught 8 passes for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The defense returns second-leading tackler Nick Schumann, a 6-1, 195-pound senior linebacker who racked up 79 tackles.

Jaylen Farmer (6-1, 245) and Xander Song (6-4, 165) return to the defensive line. Last year Farmer made 33 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered another. Song registered 17 tackles. "They are two seniors who have stepped up a lot and that's good to see," their coach said.

Cerrone is a two-way player who was limited to 3 games in the secondary last season due to injury. Hull likewise plays both ways. They will be flanked by Clay Conn, whose 37 tackles last year ranked fifth on the team.

"We've got a pretty good senior class, Farquhar said. "A lot of them have worked their way into a position and that's good to see. We have a pretty fast team. We're athletic and quick. I'm excited to see what they can do."

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Aug 30, 2019
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