PECATONICA, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — There was a time not long ago, when there wasn’t much to cheer about during football season at Durand and Pecatonica. Now the Du-Pec Rivermen have become a powerhouse in the NUIC. They’ve put together four straight winning seasons, and on paper they look like a safe bet to keep that streak going this year.
After three straight playoff appearances, the Rivermen have come to expect making the playoffs.
“Yea, I think 100 percent,” said senior receiver/linebacker Jaxon Diedrich. “I think all the coaches, I think everybody here, that’s kind of the expectation now.”
“It’s a testament not only to the guys we have in the program, but the young guys behind them that want to be better than the group ahead of them, so I like where we’re at,” said head coach Tyler Hoffman. “It’s a long way from our 1-8 season the first time around.”
For the fifth straight season a Hoffman will be starting at quarterback. Cooper Hoffman is back for his second season now as a junior. Last season he completed a whopping 69 percent of his passes, 14 for touchdowns. He also showed the ability to run the ball.
“This year you can kind of see him building some confidence there,” said coach Hoffman. “He looks really calm back there. I like his composure back there, and we’re expecting nothing but better things from him this season.”
Du-Pec graduated all-conference runningback AJ Mulcahy. He was one of the most physical players in the NUIC rushing for 1300 yards and 23 touchdowns. The powerback this year will be senior Connor Hughes. He missed almost all of last season with a broken collarbone.
Hoffman is thrilled to have him back. “He certainly has a physicality, maybe not quite to AJ, but pretty darn close. You’ll see him get some touches and be pretty impressive when he does.”
Jaylen Noud is back at running back giving Du-Pec quickness and shiftiness in the backfield. Once again the Rivermen will get some great play at the receiver spot from Drew Williams, Jaxon Diedrich, Brody Black and Max Milbrath.
“There’s a ton of guys out there, and the nice part is there’s really not a drop-off from like one to six so to speak,” said Hoffman.
Du-Pec also hopes to get Nathan Folk back at receiver sometime in mid-season when he recovers from an injury.
Noud said the offense should be able to hold its own with any opponent. “We have a lot of athleticism this year in the backfield and on the line. We may not be the biggest, strongest, but we’re really athletic.”
Du-Pec graduated four very good linemen. Erik Kormoczy and Grant Johnson are back to lead a quick rebuild.
“I like this group that we have,” said Hoffman. “They may not have some of the flash like some of those guys did last year, but this group, boy, I’ll tell you what, they work really well together, and they make each other work.”
Hughes, Diedrich, Noud, Williams and Kormoczy will be some of the leaders on the defense.