Auburn ready to hit the ground running for start of season

High School Football

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Ahead of this upcoming high school football season, keep an eye on those Auburn Knights.

“It’s really exciting to be out here and I know the kids really like it too,” head coach JP Toldo said.

After playing just three games last season thanks to COVID, they’re playing with a chip on their shoulder and are eager to prove their doubters wrong.

“We coming. We coming,” said senior linebacker Kaleb Burnell. “That’s all I got to say.”

Seniors like Linebacker Kaleb Burnell and his twin brother Malakai, along with first team all-conference senior defensive back Daquavion Oakes are a few key players on this squad that are looking to play shutdown D this year.

“We have a pretty strong defense,” said Kaleb. “We have one of the best DB’s in the NIC-10, the best linebackers, and we have a pretty strong D-Line, so we don’t really expect anybody to really score on us heavy this season.”

“Mentally being ready play teams, staying whole as a group, being competitive and competing, and just keeping our heads and staying in the game,” said Malakai Burnell, senior linebacker and Kaleb’s twin brother.

For the first-team selection, Oakes, he’s looking to top what he did last year, and do it with his teammates by his side.

“Honestly just my bond with these dudes out here,” said Oakes. “Try to work together to get better as a team and not give up. Just fight through all adversity. Just not giving up, being able to fight through and stay whole as a team. If we go down just keep our head in the game.”

Entering his fourth year, Toldo said that outside of a few spots, it’s been an open competition throughout camp.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that are competing for the running back spot, up front on the offensive line, and then for receiver as well,” Toldo said.

Eager to get back at it, this team has one vision.

“We want State,” said Oakes. “We want State. I’m not going to lie to you. That’s all we looking forward to. Just trying to get to State.”

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