Stillman Valley Preview 8/17/12

Stillman Valley, Illinois-Unless you paid close attention to Stillman Valley's sophomore team last year, or to the varsity sideline you probably won't recognize many of the names on this year's squad.

The Cardinals return only one starter on offense and only two on defense from last year's state semifinal squad. Even the coaches aren't completely certain what to expect out of this bunch.

"It's kind of a strange feeling and kind of an exciting feeling to see who's going to step up and play and that sort of thing," said head coach Mike Lalor.

It's likely that we'll all become very familiar with many of the names on this team by mid-season. Many of these players went undefeated on the sophomore team last year.

"We've got a lot of people that got repetitions last year. We'll be alright," said defensive end/receiver Spencer Bates. "We've got some juniors that are good."

Senior Greg Gerardy takes over at quarterback this year. The Cards will again send a wave of running backs at opposing defenses.

"Michael Bower is a big fullback, and we've got quick halfbacks in Brit Vernon and Matt Stone," said Gerardy.

As always the Cardinals will have some strong, physical linemen, although at the moment they don't have much varsity experience.

"We're pretty green in the lines," said Lalor. "We lost a lot of kids up front, so we're just going to have to grow up in a hurry."

Bates, Bower, and big Pat Cusack will lead the defense. But the Cardinals will be without their long-time defensive coordinator Joe Blume. He passed away this summer.

"What I hope we do to remember him is play extremely hard and play great, physical football," said Lalor. I think that's the way to remember somebody."

The Cardinals seem more than capable of moving forward despite graduating that incredible senior class from last year.

"We did graduate a lot of seniors, but we've got a lot of seniors this year who learned from the guys last year," said Gerardy. "It's our time to step up."

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