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      2013 KHQA Barnstorm Tour: ILLINI WEST CHARGERS


      For the third time in four years, the Tri State's benchmark High School Football program has a different head coach.

      If that seems like "volatility" on the surface, then you really don't understand the dynamics at play at Illini West.

      The ability to promote from within and elevate a proven, championship certified Defensive Coordinator like Lyle Klein means the changes in Charger Country will really be more micro than macro.

      That includes the ever unyielding expectations on these kids...both internal and external.

      The story here, however, is that the Chargers appear well heeled to try and meet even the loftiest of goals.

      Brayden Carroll: "I think it has a lot to do with our mentality. We've seen teams that have won State Championships and have done really good in the playoffs. I think all of us just want live up to how they did and just be the best we possibly can be."

      Lyle Klein: "The standard has been set by so many former teams. And that's what we've asked of our players is to live up to the standard on the field and off the field."

      Dylan Chandler: "Hard work and determination is kind of the key to everything. And our goal, as usual, is to win State."

      Lyle Klein: "You know the last couple of years we have made the playoffs and a lot of teams would really like to make the playoffs, simply. And if that's our "down year" we will take that. I don't think they were down years. I think they worked their tails off and they got themselves in the playoffs. I think we are on track."

      Or more precisely....the FAST track. The Chargers most evident credential for consideration as a restored powerhouse is nothing short of paint peeling, grass scorching speed. The kind of burn that put kids like Jacob Sholl on the State Sprint Podium in Charleston last spring and now features at least two of the Chargers State Qualifying 4x200 Meter members in a completely rebuilt Offensive Backfield.

      Braxton Squier: "Jacob (Sholl)... Leighton (Johnson) is quick. (Brayden) Carroll is quick. They're all fast. (Braeden) Bennett is quick. So we got a lot of threats so we are going to try to use them to our advantage."

      Brayden Carroll: "We might not be the biggest team but we try to use what we've got going for us. So speed is going to be a big factor in how we do this year."

      Lyle Klein: "Yeah....we have a nice backfield and we do have some quality team speed this year. We need our linemen to obviously open the holes for us so we can through those. And really, I think the biggest thing is hanging on to the football and doing what we do best."

      To that end, the Chargers boast one of the best Interior Lines in Tri State Football. Now we don't often talk about Guard play in these types of forums because it isn't "glamorous" but Braxton Squier and Blaze Murfin are flat out Human Battering Rams to the cause...

      Duerr: When the middle of your line is built, kind of formed like that, does it make it easier to build and add pieces and kind of get the offense going when you have that kind of veteran nucleus there?

      Lyle Klein: "Any one who knows our system knows that one play build onto another and that we try to keep them all looking about the same. It is nice to be able to get on the outside when we need to, to run a trap when we need to, to bootleg when we need to. And then we also can run straight at you and run bellies."

      The bigger question marks seem to lie on Defense, which is Coach Klein's forte. The Secondary is solid with Nolan Ard and All Conference pick Brayden Carroll returning. As far as the Front Eight: there will be some tinkering to fill out the all important Linebacker Spots...as well as facilitating maximum aggression up front.

      Brayden Carroll: "I think we will be physical. We will be fast. We will fly to the ball as best as we can. All it has to do with your technique. And how well you tackle. And the way you tackle. That's just the way we are going to look at it this year."

      Lyle Klein: "The way we look at it is..trying to fit a type of person into a role. We've got quite a few players. We may be smaller up front but we are going to be fast, quick and we are going to work hard."