Wheaton Warrenville South senior quarterback Matt Sommerdyke finds himself in a special category on his team.
With eight offensive starters set to return, including four offensive linemen, Sommerdyke can rely on his teammates to help him during an adjustment period from backup quarterback to his new job title of QB1.
The Tigers were in good hands at quarterback last season. Parker Brown, who was named to the 2021 Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 7A All-State First-Team, sparked the offense with his experience, poise and talent.
Sommerdyke said his transition to starting quarterback is helped by the large number of returnees, especially among the offensive line. Sommerdyke said his role last spring was mainly playing at the end of varsity games and on the junior varsity.
“I’m prepared to take on the varsity role and hopefully win a state championship,” Sommerdyke said. “We’re ready for the season, and all the guys are excited, so I don’t think we’re too shocked with losing Parker or any of the seniors because they led us on a great path last year and showed us what to do. We’re really excited to get back to work in the summer camp with some new leaders.”
Sommerdyke displayed a nice touch on several passes in a four-team 7-on-7 hosted by Lyons on Thursday. The Tigers defeated Marist, Lyons and York to start off the Sean Norris era on a good note. Norris was named the Tigers’ new coach in late May, when long-time coach Ron Muhitch announced his retirement following the conclusion of the abridged six-game spring season.
Norris, a former all-state quarterback at Wheaton North, said Sommerdyke made several outstanding throws and showed the ability to spread the ball. Sommerdyke, just like his new head coach, has some big shoes to fill.
“Parker was an all-state quarterback and did a phenomenal job,” Norris said. “Matt’s really smart and a sharp kid. He was preparing last year to be the starting quarterback and taken on the leadership now of being that next guy.
“He’s really made a lot of steps. We’ve challenged him with leadership and leading the offense. He’s getting better each day, and did good today, so that was good to see.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Sommerdyke said the three-game camp was a good experience against diverse opponents to build some chemistry with his receivers.
“It was a good day, and the first time with all the receivers back after college camp, so getting that chemistry was really needed,” he said. “We’re really excited to have so many starters back. I’m used to playing with them through practice and years before, so we have a good bond.”
Senior defensive back Danny Healy is one of the leaders back on defense. A three-year starter, Healy said he gained 10 pounds since the end of the football season and hopes to lead the Tigers to a long run in the playoffs.
“It’s a new group of guys every year but the same goal: we want to win a conference championship and hopefully make a run in the state playoffs,” Healy said. “We’ve got a couple of seniors back and a lot of new roles for juniors to fill, but we’ve looked good. I feel I have to step up and be a leader and play my game.”
Norris said he understands leading the Tigers is a difficult challenge that comes with high expectations, but he’s focusing on building team chemistry this summer.
“It’s been great and the kids have really responded well,” he said. “We’ve had a really great two weeks of summer camp, with eight practices. We’ve focused on our individual skills and installing our offense and team bonding.
“We have a lot of room still to grow, but proud of the way they have responded. We’re excited. It’s like climbing a mountain, but right now, we’re still at basecamp.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle