By Mark Gregory
After a 3-6 campaign a year ago, Lockport is looking for a better outcome this year, the second under coach Dan Starkey.
The Porters lost several key players to graduation, including quarterback Jeremy Quade. He will be replaced by Ben Davis under center.
Davis will have fellow newcomers Matt Skobel, John Snidanko and Sheldon Snapp at running back positions.
While Lockport did lose Dan Foley and Chris Murino off the offensive line, the Porters return Matt Chmielewski and Quinn Polaski to block up front.
Sophomore Austin Hoffman will replace the graduated Cory Savage at fullback.
Davis will also have weapons on the outside, as Deiondre Taylor is back from last season’s squad.
Wide receiver Sean Kelley is gone from a year ago, but receiver Pat Cooper and tight end Josh Baker look to fill the void.
Defensively, the Porters have a lot returning.
Linebackers Gabe Lammers, Brandon Wilson and Mo Atiq are all back, as is defensive lineman Ryan Kelley.
The defensive backfield returns Michael Zapotoczny and Derrius Rodgers, as well as Taylor, who will see action at defensive back as well as receiver.
Rodgers, who brings speed to the Porters defense coming off a state track meet where he medaled in both the 100-and-200-meter dashes, had three interceptions last season.
Eric Jungheim will add depth and talent to the defensive backfield.
The defensive line will get help from newcomers Kevin Mulhall, Pat Kozyra and David Balderamma.
While the team will feature several newcomers, Starkey said it is his veterans that have set the tone in the offseason.
“The Porters are excited about the 2015 season as the offseason strength and conditioning commitment and work ethic was very good,” he said. “Strong senior leadership has been evident throughout the challenges of summer camp and the pre-season workouts.”
Starkey knows that the team will have to be a cohesive group from the coaching staff on down.
“Our goal is to have a group of players and coaches who are committed to competitive excellence in all endeavors of their life,” he said. “We can reach that if we have players and coaches working hard together with high expectations for preparation, work ethic and technique at every position.”
The Porters open the season Aug. 28 at home against Downers Grove North before traveling to Minooka for week two.
Lockport then gets into the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue Division with a Saturday game at Joliet Central on Sept. 12.