Offense leads the way for New Trier
New Trier's football team will use experienced offense in its annual challenge to Maine South in the Central Suburban League South.
Nine returning starters in coach Brian Doll's spread offense -- including all-conference, three-year starting quarterback Nevan Cremascoli -- are back from a squad that went 5-1 last season. New Trier's sole loss came against Maine South, 14-9.
"My hope is that with having a senior-heavy offense that they can control the tempo and the pace of the game," said Doll, in his eighth year leading the Trevians.
The 6-foot-4 Cremascoli, who recently received his first Division I offer from St. Thomas in Minnesota, completed 67 of 121 passes last season for 929 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
A transfer from Downers Grove North after his freshman year, Cremascoli started out as a dropback quarterback, but Doll said the senior has developed a greater ability to run the football.
He'll be supported by returning senior linemen such as 6-foot-5, 265-pound Jesse Mendoza and a whopper of a left tackle, all-conference Luc Elias, 6-4, 290.
The offensive backfield gets a little fresher with two-way senior Jack Cummins, complemented by sophomore Jackson McCarey, a second-year football player with varsity speed, Doll said.
Wide receiver Josh Kirkpatrick, another all-conference performer, returns to that spot. Senior Finn Cohan, 6-5, 230, is an Ivy League prospect who will get reps on both sides of the ball at defensive end and tight end.
Doll will want to get the ball to Alex Mendes to use his athleticism not only at strong safety, but also in the offense and in punt return.
On special teams, Doll will carry his first freshman, kicker Nikki Dugandzic. Already 6-5, 180 pounds at 14 years old, Dugandzic impressed enough at the highly regarded Chris Sailer Kicking Camp to be selected to play in the Football University Freshman All-American Bowl on Dec. 20 in Naples, Florida.
Dugandzic's leg makes New Trier special teams a strength.
The Trevians have to retool a bit on defense, where they graduated the reining CSL South defensive player of the year, linebacker Brody Roth, also a running back.
They return starters Mendes, and third-year interior lineman Charlie Ziezula will get reps from Elias and Cohan, and look for Cummins, junior linebacker Henry Wolfe and sophomore defensive lineman Ty Stringer to bring the heat.
"We're a little bit of a wild card (defensively), so we'll see where things go, but we've got a lot of defensive linemen who have experience, and they were looking good in the preseason," Doll said.
"Our main thing with our defense is we want to play extremely fast. We want to be a high-pursuit team that creates turnovers and gets to the ball."
Doll looks for a fast start against unfamiliar Week 1 foe Lyons Township, on the way to a 24th playoff appearance in 25 seasons, including the last 16 straight, not counting last season's COVID postseason washout.
"We're just excited to be back playing football this year and seeing full stands and less restrictions so the kids can enjoy Friday nights and what football is all about," Doll said.