After missing out on the playoffs in 2017, Neuqua Valley returned to the postseason last year, but they ultimately fell in the first round against 8th seeded Warren. Head coach Bill Ellinghaus brings back 12 returning starters including his starting quarterback in Mark Gronowski, which is a luxury in the high school football world.
Having a returning signal caller is huge for the offense, but one big loss this season is running back Will Chevalier who could literally do everything. Losing a dynamic playmaker like that will put an even bigger load on the strong arm of Gronowski
Coach Ellinghaus is looking for more consistency from the offense, particularly in the red zone, which was something that plagued the Wildcats during their playoff loss to Warren.
The Wildcats also bring back a lot of experience at the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball with senior wide outs Patrick Hoffman and Sean Larkin along with tail back Armani Moreno. Having those 3 returning allows the offense to build off of last season’s success.
While they have plenty of experience on offense, the defensive side of the ball is a different story with only 3 returning starters for a unit that forced 18 turnovers last season
JJ Robertson is one of the key returners and despite plenty of new faces, he thinks the defense will come together quickly.
A key addition this summer has been Metea Valley transfer Jack Belskis, who fit in immediately and developed a presence in strengthening the linebacker position and helping the pass rush.
With both the offense and defense coming along nicely, we take a look at the Neuqua Valley schedule, which features 6 away games. After hitting the road to start the season, they host perennial contender East St Louis in week 3. Week 6 features a tilt with Naperville Central in a game that could have big implications on the conference champion. To close out the season, the battle tested Wildcats hit the road in 4 of the final 5 games. With one of the toughest schedules in the state, Ellinghaus won’t let his team get ahead of themselves and is solely focused on week 1
With a rigorous road to the playoffs ahead, the Wildcats showed last year that they are up for the challenge and ready make a deep run into November this fall.
Check out other High School Football Previews!