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Barbs’ seniors aim high

Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 9:49 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 8:14 a.m. CDT
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Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com DeKalb seniors from left, Robert Searls, Jonathan Vega, Jake Kuykendall, and Allen Letterer, listen to defensive coordinator Dan Smaha and linebackers coach Tyrone Williams during the 7-on-7 football tournament at DeKalb High School on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

The incoming seniors on DeKalb's football team are primed to end their prep playing careers with a bang this fall.

The seniors, led by running back Dre Brown, receiver Rudy Lopez Jr. and middle linebacker Jake Kuykendall, were a big part of last year's 5-5 campaign that saw the Barbs return to the playoffs (Class 6A), and they are expecting better in their last season.

“This is the most exciting season that I have been a part of,” Brown said. “We have been talking about our senior season since eighth grade, so it is a pretty big deal.”

For this upcoming season to be a success, the Barbs will need a big year out of Illini commit Brown. Brown, who announced Tuesday he will enroll at the University of Illinois after this fall semester, was a Daily Chronicle all-area selection after scoring 20 touchdowns in his junior year.

Last season also was Matt Weckler's first as DeKalb's football coach. Weckler said this year's seniors have the talent and dedication to build on last year's success.

“We are excited. Each and every year we come into a season as a coaching staff and as players, you have to be excited,” Weckler said. “With this group, who has had success in the past at DeKalb and the way they have stuck together, it is just a positive thing.”

A senior-laden offensive line led by Devonte Thompson and Caleb Deweese will be setting the tone. On defense, Kuykendall, an all-area second-team selection in 2013, will lead the defense. 

One of the best things about this senior class, outside of the dedication and work ethic, is how close they are with each other, Brown said.

“I would describe us as hard-working, smart, and we know each other very well,” Brown said. “We have a lot of good camaraderie.”

To go along with how close this class is, they also are extremely competitive. Brown said how much the players compete with one another at practice helps make each other better. 

The Barbs have been working out in the summer. DeKalb had workouts at Northern Illinois University so far, as well as early morning workouts.

“They hang out on and off the field. They compete with each other in everything,” Weckler said. “It's not just in football and basketball, but it is video games and any little thing they have that they can get a one-up on each other, they do it.”

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