EPC looks to have a bounce back season

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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LANARK, Ill. (WIFR) - Eastland-Pearl City is not used to having down seasons since moving to a co-op in 1995. But after back-to-back seasons under .500, the Wildcatz look to reclaim the throne in the NUIC.

“Whoever goes out there and plays the hardest every week could take the conference,” said senior quarterback Kellen Henze.

“This is going to be a dogfight every single night, every single Friday night in the NUIC.”

Coach Jared McNutt compares the NUIC to the SEC in football, it’s anyone’s to take. Last spring season, the Catz fell in the middle of the NUIC south with a 2-4 record. Strong teams have since left the conference leaving spots open for other teams to take charge.

“Last year, we were a little inexperienced,” said Henze. We had a lot of juniors starting, but this year we have a lot of returning kids, so I think that’ll really help us. It’s something you kind of take for granted sometimes, how much experience plays a role in the games, and I think that’ll help to our benefit this year.”

Henze admits as a young player he liked to chuck the ball down the field. Now, he wants to see what the defense gives him and go from there.

“They almost have to make a choice,” explained Henze. “And every play, we should be able to get some positive yardage whether that’s on the ground, through the air, throwing even a one yard pass if somebody could turn up field and run for 20 yards.”

“I feel very confident in him throwing the football as well,” said McNutt. “If he sees it open, he’s going to take off and run with his legs, which is what we’d like him to do.”

The Catz are out to claw their way to a win over powerhouse Lena-Winslow in Week One and move up in the conference standings from there.

“Our line is pretty good,” said senior offensive and defensive lineman Christian Fischer. “We got a lot more, bigger guys this year. I think we’ll make a good run with our offense and defense. We’ll do pretty good.”

“We got to control the line of scrimmage” explained McNutt. “We got to make sure we don’t turn the ball over. If we give Lena any extra chances, they’re going to make sure they take charge of them and capitalize on those chances.”

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