2014 KHQA BARNSTORM TOUR: QUINCY NOTRE DAME RAIDERS
Brady Miller: "It motivates us a lot. We have people who are out here to make plays; fill the roles that the Seniors left for them. Continue on what they left for us from last year."
Bill Connell: "It's their turn. They understand it's their turn. And there is a lot that is expected from them. At the end of the day, if you were to say at Quincy Notre Dame there's not expectations, you're kidding yourself. People expect every year that we are going to put a good team out there and we are going to be able to compete against the best in the state."
Household names and known commodities are in unusually short supply at 10th and Jackson this Fall. But on principle, any Raider team that returns a 1500 yard Tailback must be considered instantly dangerous.
Bill Connell: "Well, I mean Daylin (Anders) is as good as any back as we've had. Last year, when he earned his way on the field, obviously he was ready to compete and compete at a very very high level. He showed people very quickly what he was capable of doing. Now, he's a year older, a year smarter, a year bigger, and a year quicker."
But much of the rest of the Raider Offense is a work in progress; a rebuild that starts from the trenches forward.
Daylin Anders: "Coming back from last year, we have one starter: Brady Miller. He's also stepped up and he's ready to play. We have Mitch Carey and Blake Ulrich coming up playing our guard and tackle and Kellen Barnes at Center. As of right now, we are looking pretty good. We are going to come out and hit you. We are going to pound the ball. We are going to run. And we are going to score."
At the skill positions, there is promise to be found at both Tight End and Wide Receiver and some intriguing options to pair with Daylin Anders in the backfield. Replacing Joey McCaughey's considerable talents at Quarterback, however, has proven much more challenging.
Bill Connell: "It's a camp process. I mean we want to be fair to all three kids. And really, we've got a Senior, Junior and Sophomore and all three of those kids have worked extremely hard. Right now I'd probably say we are looking at the the Senior and the Junior....Very good fundamentals. They've got very good feet. We are just going to let the situation play out until we figure out who the starter is going to be."
Defensively, the Raiders bring back but a single full time start in Luke Frieden. But thanks to a wealth of talent at Linebacker, it's a unit that has quickly found traction.
Logan Arens: "I like that everyone goes after it. Everyone goes 100% each play. Not afraid to hit anyone at all."
Luke Frieden: " Logan (Arens) is coming back which is going to be good help. I think he was leading the team last year in tackles until he got hurt. But I mean Blake Hilgenbrinck has had good experience and Parker Kientzle had a lot of playing time out there too as well."
Bill Connell: "This group plays like a lot of our groups have played. They play extremely hard. They run around the field. We need to get into a game situation to see what we've got."
For better or worse, Bill Connell won't have to wait long for a progress report on that rebuilt Defense.
Bill Connell: "I mean we know we've got our work cut out for us. We know that (Rockford) Lutheran obviously has a great, great tradition. They've got possibly the best Running Back in the state that I think has had a lot of offers already as Junior. So we are going to have to work hard to make sure we are ready to go up and play. But that's no different than Hannibal. You look back over the four years that we played Hannibal (to open the season) and if you didn't have your A Game, Hannibal was going to beat you. So we are going to have to have our A Game a week from Friday night when we go up there and square off with them."