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Cook/DuPage County notes: Nazareth planning to rotate three quarterbacks this season

Nazareth football coach Tim Racki decided it was time for a shift in philosophy.

After winning seven state football championships in his illustrious coaching career, Racki doesn’t plan on making radical changes.

But the former Southern Illinois football player is ready to take a stab at playing multiple quarterbacks for the truncated, six-game season.

Racki said the odd season is the right time to play multiple quarterbacks, especially since its the first time he won’t have J.J. McCarthy under center since the start of the 2017 season.

McCarthy, now a freshman early enrollee at Michigan, led the Roadrunners to a 26-2 record in his two varsity seasons, including a state championship and a runner-up finish. But he transferred to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior year.

Thus, Racki figured the 2021 season —- playing in the spring time, no less — would be perfect opportunity to let all three of his quarterbacks take snaps in Friday’s opener against Fenwick.

Racki said he plans to start junior Aidan Pieper, a transfer from St. Charles North, but will also will give senior Cass Kinsella and junior Ben Michel snaps in each game.

“Aidan is very strong and can make all the throws and hit all the windows that we’re looking for in our offense, and runs really well,” Racki said. “Cass knows our offense very well, works so hard and is really focused. Ben has such a high football IQ. He knows our offensive scheme really well. He’s very knowledgeable and can run.”

“We’re going with a different approach for the six games,” Racki said. “All the quarterbacks will be playing, and I’m not putting them on a rep count. We’ve ranked them, and talked to each of them Friday.

“I’m doing something I’ve never done before at quarterback, but I’m also making sure everybody on the team gets game reps. I’m not just unloading the bench at the end of the game. You need to have perspective. These kids, especially the seniors, have not had a full high school experience. It’s not normal what they’ve gone through. I want to compete, but it’s high school football, not the NFL or we’re going for a college football championship.”

Rittenhouse is back

St. Francis senior quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse is back for his senior season. The Illinois State signee completed 132 of 219 passes for 1,967 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions en route to being named the MVP of the Metro Suburban Conference in 2019.

“Tommy has been an unbelievable leader during this whole thing,” St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. “He’s been making sure every kid was staying positive and believing we were going to have a season. Tommy is so prepared right now being in this offense for three years that it’s going to be scary what he can do this year plus we surrounded him with some really good talent.

“Tommy had the opportunity to leave and play elsewhere but he couldn’t leave his team because he wanted to finish what he started. I give him all the credit in the world.”

Riverside-Brookfield gearing up for season

Riverside-Brookfield’s built an impressive playoff run during Brendan Curtin’s tenure.

Curtin has guided the Bulldogs to playoff appearances in five of the last six seasons. Although the Bulldogs won’t have an opportunity to add to their streak this season, Curtin said his returnees are ready for a difficult schedule. The Bulldogs play their first three games on the road and finish with a three straight at home.

The Bulldogs were scheduled to play Elmwood Park Week 1, but Elmwood Park couldn’t play so now they’re traveling to Hillcrest.

Senior Owen Murphy, who plays quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back, is among the top returnees. Junior wide receiver/defensive back Matt Novak, senior tight end/linebacker Luke Swiatek and senior linebacker Jordan Medrano are among the main returnees.

“Owen has contributed throughout the field for us,” Curtin said. “Matt is a three-year starter who was as a two-way impact player last year. Luke has a nose for the ball and led the team in takeaways last season, and Jordan is capable of making plays in the backfield this spring and will be called to lead the defense.”

Mustangs making a move

A year ago, Downers Grove South started slow, picked up steam in the middle part of the schedule and fizzled at the end.

This year, with a shortened slate of games, the Mustangs are looking for some more consistency. The Mustangs scored just nine points in their final two games, including a 48-2 defeat to Glenbard West in the playoffs.

The Mustangs return seven starters on offense and four on defense, as junior wide receiver Eli Reed, senior running back Rashon Murff, running back/slot receiver Richie Pecenka and wide receivers Patrick O’Neil and Jerry Eaton all gaining valuable experience last season.

Reed is a player to watch after adding 20 pounds in the offseason but still retained his 4.4 40-yard dash speed.

The offense suffered a big loss when quarterback Cole Warehime, a two-year starter, elected to focus on baseball this spring after signing with Southeast Missouri State. Senior Max Molinari and sophomore Ryan Dawson are the two main candidates at quarterback.

“Max has experience at quarterback, and Ryan Dawson has a chance to be a special player and a college recruit,” Downers Grove South coach Mark Molinari said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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