MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — After years of coming up short of a NIC-10 football championship the Harlem Huskies kicked down the door this past spring. NIC-10 MVP James Cooper Jr. and his talented receiving corps have moved on, so can the Huskies contend for the top again without them?
The Huskies would answer that with an emphatic ‘Yes.’ They’re hungry to repeat despite losing Cooper Jr, and wide receivers Dezzion Jordan and Dominic McCarron.
“The biggest thing as that they’re (the current players) still in communication with them (the former players),” said Harlem coach Boy Moynihan. They’re talking to them on a daily basis. They love them. They’re a part of this thing. They’re a part of this legacy. They started it. They’re the foundation, so they’re always talking to the guys. You know, James is talking to our quarterback. So, they loved it.
Due to the losses on the offensive side of the ball, the Huskies switching up their style this year from a college spread under Cooper, to a flex bone under new quarterback, junior Austin Redmond.
“I’m really excited for this season with all of our weapons and excited for all of the things we can do this season,” said Redmond. “I think there’s a lot of pressure, but I think the team as a whole is ready to handle it.”
The offensive shift is going to highlight a more ground-and-pound game. That is something senior running back Anthanee Crawford is really looking forward to.
“The big goal is 2,000 yards rushing.”
Between Crawford, versatile athlete DeAndre Young, and a pair of bulldozers in Adrian Palos and Reid Foster, running behind an offensive line that is returning 4 of 5 starters including Brennan McCoy and Nate Smith, they have no plans for regression.
Not only was Harlem’s offense great in the spring season, their defense was strong as well but as they say…
“Last year is last year, I’m focused on a new year just trying to be better for the team and be a leader,” said NIC-10 sack leader Erik Serrano.
“I’m really confidence in this defense. I think we should be the best defense in the conference pretty easily,” said senior defensive back Ethan Taylor.
Leading the charge of that group is 4-year varsity letterman and the NIC-10’s reigning defensive MVP, Adrian Palos at linebacker.
“It’s crazy that this is my last year of high school, it feels like I just got done with my freshman year. It’s kind of sad, to be honest that it’s my last year.”
Moynihan knows this group is just as special and that all goes back to a three week stretch last season.
“It was three weeks of games where we came from behind, double digits, so I think that built a lot of character.”