ALGONQUIN – Jacobs will not take qualifying for the playoffs for granted, but first-round eliminations the past three seasons have turned the Golden Eagles an eager bunch.
“We don’t want to go one-and-done [in the playoffs],” Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. “The kids realize that we can’t slip and stub our toe because it’s a lot different when you’re a 5-4 or 6-3 team with who you get to play.”
In Mitz’s three seasons as coach, the Eagles have made strides. Now, with several returning starters and Bret Mooney, an NCAA Division I recruit at quarterback, they are poised to take the next step.
“No doubt we want to continue our string of playoffs, but we want to challenge for the [Fox Valley] conference [Valley Division] championship,” Mitz said. “There’s some things we have to shore up defensively. I think we’ve done that with our kids this summer.”
Jacobs has not won an FVC or FVC Valley title since 1979, when the Eagles shared the FVC championship with Crystal Lake Central. If they win or improve from their fourth-place finish in the Valley, it could also mean a home playoff game.
“We’re going to come back strong, we’re looking good,” tackle Blake Broz said. “We’re looking like a good connected team. We went to go farther in the playoffs, do better in games and not let people score on us, have that lockdown ‘D’.”
The Eagles, who were 5-5 last season and bowed out to Boylan in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, figure to be a force offensively. Mooney (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) threw for 2,046 yards last season. Broz, running back Josh Walker, wide receiver Hunter Williams and tight end Jake Dziewulski also return as starters.
“We look good compared to last year,” said Mark Mamola, a senior offensive guard and defensive tackle. “Getting to the second round of the playoffs is a big thing we’re looking forward to.”
Mooney’s experience and ability will go a long way. He has an offer from D-I Colgate and Mitz said Western Michigan and Vanderbilt will be watching his first two games with great interest.
“I can’t say enough about Bret,” Mitz said. “He’s worked extremely hard in the offseason. We’ve got him in a great position not only to throw the ball, but run the ball this year. I hope he’s the [runnning-passing] threat that Chris [Streveler] was up at Marian last year. I’m hoping Bret does a lot of that for us.”