GENOA – Before a football coach even worries about offensive and defensive schemes, there's one aspect of the prep game that's extremely important to a team's success.
Numbers, numbers, numbers.
The amount of players in the program goes a long way. This season, Genoa-Kingston coach Travis Frederick said there are about 70 players in his program. The IHSA's official enrollment for G-K is 626.
"I think we've got a good core group of kids. Our depth is solid, this is good. (Grades) 9-12, it's as good as it's been in a long time," Frederick said before the team's first practice Monday. "We've got good numbers at every level, and so for varsity, we feel like it's finally going to start paying big dividends for us. Playing a lot of bodies like we did last year, but even more so I think."
Frederick said that in addition to depth, the overall talent on the team is solid, as well.
"I don't feel bad about putting any kid in there, really, at any position," Frederick said.
The Cogs missed the playoffs in Frederick's first three seasons as coach, but G-K finished the 2013 regular season 5-4 before suffering a 24-0 loss to Geneseo in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. Geneseo went on to lose in the state championship game.
G-K senior offensive lineman Anthony Lacko said last year's playoff berth has put some momentum into the program.
"Our team's attitude, we have a higher intensity I want to say," Lacko said. "We really want to do even better than we did last year and just keep it rolling."
Hawks breaking in new quarterback: Hiawatha fans saw a familiar face under center the past few years in Mike Mercado. However, the three-year starter has graduated, and a new Hawk will be handling the reins – senior Alex Flores.
Flores played receiver last season.
"He spent the last three years learning under Mike," Hiawatha coach Sean Doolittle said. "He'll come in, I think he'll do a real good job for us."
Donnelly said Flores is mobile with a strong arm.
"He's got a lot of athletic ability in him, so if something breaks, he should be able to make plays with his feet," Donnelly said. "He gets rid of the ball pretty quick, too."