2017 KHQA Barnstorm Tour-Stop 22: ILLINI WEST CHARGERS

Powerhouse Nose Guard Ty Jackson is part of a stellar Junior Class that is set to stretch its legs for Illini West this Season.


THE SKINNY: The Chargers arrested a nasty program tailspin in 2016, rebounding to 5-5 in their first year in the Prairieland. IW was ousted from the playoffs by Unity/Payson in a game that Lyle Klein considered his team's best of the season; one that could have just as easily swung his team's direction if not for a few key plays here and there. The Chargers return seventeen starters from that squad. 2016 Leading Rusher Connor Artman opted not to play his Senior Year of Football so as to pursue Division One Track and Field Scholarship opportunities

GROWTH SPURT: Illini West doesn't have much in the way of Senior Class numbers, but what a dazzling looking Junior Group in play for Coach Klein. And it seems to be getting better almost by the day. Take the case of Offensive Linemen Jake Cole, a Super Sleeper insider recommendation from Assistant Coach Jon Schumaker (heretofore Coach Shu) Cole grew a couple of inches this off-season and put on 20 pounds and suddenly looks like a very serious contender for major Offensive Line minutes. His aggressiveness and function strength grew in kind as well and he had a very good Session on Thursday morning.

FIT TO BE TYED: The Charger Lines won't be overly deep, but there's really nice quality at the top. Junior Ty Jackson is an emerging force at both Nose Guard and on the interior Offensive Line at 285 pounds and a lively motor. It takes a tractor to move him off the point of attack. There's a nice size/speed dynamic around him up front with Kennedy Gooding as an ideal D-End (6'2" 220 pounds and rangier than most Outside Linebackers) and Tanner Coulter (250lbs) and Jackson Ryner (270lbs) as inside gap stuffers. These are guys who make plays...and who stop plays from getting made the other way before the get started; given their ability to put an opposing Offensive Line in reverse. If the Chargers are to find traction towards the top of the Conference this season, this D-Line will be the tip of the spear in for that Defense.

FAST COMPANY: That State Championship Track and Field squad that was all the rage this Spring will help re-supply a Charger Backfield looking for new answers at WingBack and Halfback. The known commodity here is Fullback Nick Vorheis, who rushed for 380 yards and three touchdowns as a Sophomore. And he's a great tone setter here; a quick hitter type who can get to open space before most Defensive Linemen have gotten out of their stances. He's also nifty pinballing his way off contact. Colton Sargeant, Weston Pollock, Michael Lord are all neatly paired options here from a very deep well of talent that may be legitimately nine deep with options.

GET CARTER: Jackson Porter is back at Quarterback and he's coming off a very impressive Junior campaign that saw him throw for 998 yards and 15 touchdowns. With a year under his belt, he'll be even more comfortable operating back there and he's the kind of do-it-all weapon that has been a focal point of the better Charger teams. And yet, you can't dismiss the idea that his Junior "understudy" Carter Boyer will get snaps at Quarterback this season. Lyle Klein sounds very high on his talent and is quick to note that he considers both Porter and Carter among the top 15 athletes on the team; that it behooves his Chargers to get both of those gents on the field as much as possible and in as many different capacities as possible.

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