Johnsburg football team's veterans fuel dominating 7-0 start to season
Just four years ago, the Johnsburg Skyhawks football team was going through its second straight 0-9 record.
This season, that record has nearly reversed itself, as the program continues to flourish.
A veteran-led Skyhawks squad is at 7-0 so far this season, with a top-five ranking in the state's Associated Press Class 4A rankings.
Johnsburg entered the 2016 season with 15 starters back from last year's squad, and that has made things easier, Head Coach Dan Deboeuf told the McHenry Times.
“The players understand the defense and the offense better than a year ago," Deboeuf said. "More experience is always better, especially in big games. Our team does a good job of controlling their emotions during big games.”
As their winning scores suggest, the team also is good at controlling other teams.
Over the first six games, according to MaxPreps.com, the Skyhawks had four straight shutouts, during which they outscored their opponents 52.3-0. Overall, Johnsburg outscored their first six opponents 287-41. Those 41 points were scored in the first two games by Plano and Rochelle, who had a combined record of 9-3 as of Oct. 5.
Offensively, Johnsburg employs multiple sets, with running back Alex Peete leading the way. In the first six games, Peete had 112 carries for 1,103 yards and 20 touchdowns, but it's not all Peete. Quarterback Riley Buchanan was 55-for-86 passing for 823 yards and eight touchdowns, with two interceptions. His top target is wide receiver Nico LoDolce, who had 32 receptions for 542 yards and six touchdowns.
“We feel that we do a good job staying balanced,” Deboeuf said. “We have had some big success putting up points.”
In spite of the experience and talent, Deboeuf said the team's strength lies in what happens off the field as well.
“We have a large group of young men who are willing to do all of the extra things that it takes to be successful,” Deboeuf said. “This includes watching film and attending in-season lifting sessions.”
A tough schedule also can help sharpen the team as well. After the first six games, Johnsburg was one of four teams in the Kishwaukee River Conference (KRC) that had a record of 4-2 or better. That didn't include those first two games of the season against strong squads.
“Our conference in the KRC has some great (Class) 4A and 5A teams," Deboeuf said. "Our competition will definitely help us down the road."
There's also the memory of last season to help drive the Skyhawks. Johnsburg had an 8-3 record, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to eventual state champion Phillips. The almost-identical scenario played out the year before, when Johnsburg went 9-2 – after going a combined 1-26 the three previous seasons – and losing to Phillips in the second round as the Wildcats marched to the state crown.
“I believe that it is in the back of all of our players’ minds," Deboeuf said. "We know to compete with a state-championship-caliber team, we must continue to improve every day. We are not there yet, but are working toward getting there. Our players are willing to put in the work to get to the next level.”
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2002 W. Ringwood Rd
Johnsburg, IL 60051