2017 KHQA Barnstorm Tour-Stop 13: UNITY/PAYSON MUSTANGS
DUERRISMS CAMP NOTES FROM MENDON ON DAY ONE OF ILLINOIS PIGSKIN PRACTICE
THE SKINNY: QND alum and former Highland Defensive Coordinator Conner McLaughlin takes over in Mustang Country after Kevin Krietemeyer's departure for Bowling Green. He will inherit a roster that returns a dozen lettermen, five offensive and four defensive starters.
KLUS TO FILL THEM SHOES: Taylor Klusmeyer inherits the Mustang Quarterbacking duties from your reigning KHQA and Quincy Herald Whig Player of the Year Brodie Dunker. You likely remember Taylor from his fine run in the basketball postseason for the Mustangs, or caught him last year at Wide Receiver in an injury dampened Junior campaign. He's a good athlete and more importantly, very smart and disciplined. Conner McLaughlin describes Taylor as a kid who will make the smart throws; taking what the defense gives him. He's got the full confidence of his teammates. Dakota Ehrhardt told me this morning that if his team hadn't had Dunker the last two year, Klusmeyer would have been perfectly fine as the Mustangs starter since his Sophomore Season. Klusmeyer says he's excited to run the spread and prove himself.
NO LONGER IS IT MILLER TIME: Two-time All State Wide Receiver Cory Miller is off to college to dunk basketballs at John Wood. That established, receiving corps still resonates as a viable team strength. Todd Kelly, a cat-quick slot option, is the top returning option by the numbers and will jump up from a number three option to perhaps the teams most productive target this Fall. He has 25 catches and 10 touchdowns a year ago, so expect a big uptick in his workload. Luke Jansen also returns. He had just three catches last Fall but the Junior (another slot type at 5'9" 155lbs) is also great in space and made a spectacular catch this morning in practice. He's rangier than you think. Lots of depth and options behind those two guys.
SLEEPER ALERT: The Mustangs appear to be far better heeled at Running Back than I surmised. Junior Skyler Haggerbaumer has had a terrific off-season, including a jaw dropping run against Bowling Green in the QU Camp that is pushing him into platoon conversation with Senior Kody McCleary. The one-back in the Mustang Spread is a critical cog and prior to seeing these two, I wasn't sure how competently U/P would fill that important job description. Now it looks like the Stangs have a pair of very viable options to keep Secondaries from laying back against the pass.
DAK ATTACK: The McLaughlin hire likely serves to up the defensive tempo in Mendon and his system, distilled down from his Bill Connell days, tends to be a star maker for Linebackers. Aiden Zanger and Dakota Ehrhardt may benefit most. Zanger was an excused absence at practice today and Coach McLaughlin specifically cited him to me as kid best positioned to break out. Ehrhardt has already displayed that all important "big play gene" in posting 50 tackles, 10 stops for loss, and 5 QB Sacks a year ago. He becomes a much bigger focal point now and he's got the skill set and intelligence to really make a killing stalking down running backs. He's U/P's most likely All State candidate, from a preseason standpoint.
FARM FED: Unity/Payson's rise the last two seasons coincides with a night/day improvement in weight room devotion, as much as anything. The Mustangs could very well trot out an opening night Lineup up front that averages 6'2" 250lbs across, which is a nifty field-tilter in the WIVC