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Joliet West strives to keep energy and effort levels high

If you are trying to find the Joliet West football team in a group of people, odds are you might be better served to use your ears rather than your eyes.

The Tigers are talkative bunch and are hoping that they can use that boisterousness to their advantage as the new season approaches.

“I love this group. It’s a great group of kids,” Joliet West coach Bill Lech said. “They are showing up every day and they are working hard, and we’re learning some new things. As a group its been a fun group of kids to be around.”

Joliet West quarterback Skylar Crudup drops back after receiving the snap on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, Ill.

Joliet West quarterback Skylar Crudup drops back after receiving the snap on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, Ill. (Geoff Stellfox – gstellfox@shawmedia.com/)

Joliet West finished 3-3 in the spring season, having a three-game winning streak snapped in Week 6 with a loss to Plainfield Central. A win there would have given them a share of the conference title, but the sting of that loss with those that remain may actually pay larger dividends than the elation of a victory may have as we move into the fall.

“Our approach to the spring was to try to get six games in, which we did. We were lucky on that, and just to try to get playing time for as many kids as we could, and we wanted to win that last game so we could at least tie for a conference championship, but it just wasn’t meant to be,” Lech said. “That last game leaves a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth, but it also provides a little added incentive and a little added motivation as we move forward.”

Joliet West defensive lineman Artie Hrvatin hits a sled with teammates while competing in the Battle of the Big Butts Lineman Challenge July 15 at West Aurora High School.

Joliet West defensive lineman Artie Hrvatin hits a sled with teammates while competing in the Battle of the Big Butts Lineman Challenge July 15 at West Aurora High School. (Mary Beth Nolan for Shaw Local/)

The Tigers generally focused on getting their senior class the most playing time in the spring, but were more than ready to sprinkle in players from what was then the underclassmen group when the opportunity presented itself.

“I’ve been around a lot of programs and the philosophy has always been you win with your seniors, so we gave those seniors the first opportunity, some of them materialized and some of them didn’t. When they didn’t, we obviously looked to the younger group,” Lech said. “This senior group as sophomores went 9-0 and then as juniors we knew we had some pieces that we could plug in, but it wasn’t at the expense of that senior group. I believe you win with seniors, and when you have a solid junior group that presses them, that makes everybody better.”

Joliet West has a number of players on both sides of the football that played substantial minutes. On offense, that includes returning quarterback Skylar Crudup, wide receiver Karson Cotton and wide receiver/running back Ena Dorcoo.

Dorcoo, while not fitting the classic mold of Joliet West powerbacks of the past few years at only 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, does have an explosive burst and ability to make defenders miss in the open field if he can get there.

“We will use him similar to what he did last year,” Lech said of Dorcoo. “He’s pretty multi-dynamic. We’ll have him in the backfield. We’ll have him in the slot. He’s quick. He can catch. He can run routes. He’s just not that big, bruising inside runner that we’ve had for the last couple of years.”

Defensively, expect some changes from Joliet West. Lech indicated that the team’s defensive philosophy will be shifting from a four man front to a three man front.

“For us, that’s about getting more athletes on the field,” Lech said.

They seem to have plenty of those. Linebacker Bryan McCoy, who is drawing Division I interest, is a force to be reckoned with, while the Tigers also have the makings of a capable secondary, led by seniors Robert Satterwhite and Jerry Richards.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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