Participation in the Red Grange Classic 7-on-7 tournament for Bartlett probably carried a little more importance than it did for other schools.
In 2013, the Hawks installed a new offense under coordinator Eric Ilich.
“As I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s a two-year process,” Ilich said last week. “We need every practice. Every rep is important to get everything in that we need in to be balanced.”
Losing some reps in Schaumburg’s 7-on-7 league because water damaged the field probably didn’t help, but the Hawks do have the experience of last year’s 3-6 season under their belts, to go with eight returning starters on offense and the type of talent required to move the ball well. As a result, they hope to have the offense up and running at full speed by the start of actual practice Aug. 11.
“It’s a very quarterback-centered offense,” Ilich said. “As much as your quarterback can do, that dictates how much we’ll throw. So we’re not afraid to open it up.
But we certainly do have some pieces.”
The main one is quarterback Jordan Flint, a 6-foot-2 strong-armed senior who plays catcher for the baseball team and attended the Northwestern Quarterbacks Camp. Flint, who’s entering his third season as starter, likes how far the offense has progressed in this attack, as opposed to the system that was in place when he was a sophomore.
“It seemed like we threw the ball 16 times my sophomore year,” he said. “I threw 180 times last year and this year I think we’ll be about 50-50, run and pass.”
The speed to break off big gainers is there with senior 6-2 wide receiver Bryce Petty and junior running back Nolan Bernat, two state-qualifying sprinters.
The offensive line looks as potentially formidable as some of the big Bartlett lines of years past. Six-foot-3, 285-pound junior tackle Kyle Sanft already is making a name for himself as a potential college player after camps at Ohio State, Illinois and Mississippi.
He’s bench-pressing 315 and squatting at 415.
“My goal since my freshman year was to be the best football player to come out of Bartlett,” Sanft said, “so I’ve been working toward that goal.
“I like playing defense better, but if I get the opportunity to play college football, it seems like they’re going to think of me more as an offensive tackle.”
It all adds up to potential to improve greatly on an attack that was held to 12 points or fewer five times last year. But as Ilich said, it’s going to take plenty of reps.
“Last year was the first go-around,” Ilich said. “Hopefully, it’s going to look much different the next time we line up in a game.”