Polo looks for state repeat, welcomes old NUIC rivals to 8-Man

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 7:54 PM CDT
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POLO, Ill. (WIFR) - The last time we saw Polo play a full season of football in the fall, the Marcos raised the 8-Man state championship trophy. With a few familiar faces back in the fold, Polo knows it will have its hands full in a revamped 8-Man North.

“Now it’s just football to us. It doesn’t feel any different.”

Polo’s first season in 8-Man was one to remember. The Marcos finished off a perfect season with a near perfect championship win. But that was then, and these guys are already looking forward to going after a second state title.

“Just got to live up to the name, not take it for granted,” said senior Wayde Reimer. “Like, hey this is going to be a cakewalk. Got to keep at it, keep working.”

“A lot of them are first year players, which is kind of cool,” explained head coach Ted Alston. “You get to teach them the way you want. I feel really good about the future. I think people are excited about 8-Man.”

Head coach and athletic director Ted Alston is back for his second season after taking over from the retiring Jeff Bumstead. He gets to work with one of the biggest rosters in 8-Man. The Marcos have 36 kids in the program and nine seniors.

“We want to be one of the best teams in the state,” said quarterback Tyler Merdian. “Us as seniors, we’ve all been together since freshman year. It’s just a big year for us.”

After moving to 8-Man in 2019, Polo now gets to see a few NUIC rivals again.

“The quality of football up here is going to be a big change in 8-Man this year,” said Alston. “With the influx of Milledgeville, Aquin, Orangeville and all these teams and Amboy, it’s going to be tougher.”

Alston will lean on guys like Merdian to run the show on offense.

“I felt really good for my sophomore year, I was excited for it,” said Merdian. Then I got hurt and I was out the whole season, so that was disappointing. Just had to pick it up my junior year. Thought I had a decent year last year. Hoping for a really big one this year.

All-State defensive end Wayde Reimer knows this season will be a marathon for anyone who steps foot on the field.

“Just conditioning is the biggest thing. Being able to play both ends, both sides of the ball. The whole defense is pretty dang good.”

Polo opens the season a week from Friday at home against Milledgeville.

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