During the last two seasons, the Crystal Lake South Gators have had a 22-3 record but have been eliminated from the Illinois high school playoffs before the state title game both years. South went 11-2 in 2011, clinching a tie for the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title with the Class 6A state champion Prairie Ridge Wolves. Now with the 2012 season is ready to start in less than two weeks, the Gators are looking to find a way to get over the hump of losing late in the playoffs and find a way to get all the way to the state title game in Class 7A. South coach Chuck Ahsmann said that there will be some growing pains with a new group coming to the varsity level in 2012.
“We have a sophomore group that was really strong, we had three of them up I think and we still tied for the conference title,” Ahsmann said. “I think a lot of those guys are really good football players so I think we will be inexperienced but will have some talent.”
One piece that will return is University of Toledo recruit Boston Matthews. Matthews had interest from other Mid-American Conference school but Toledo was the only one to offer Matthews a scholarship. South will also return Mike Franke and Pat Walsh from their offensive line. Ahsmann added that having a player like Matthews along with some other recent talented offensive linemen has opened up lines of communications with more Division I schools.
“That’s huge,” Ahsmann added. “We’ve been blessed the last few years to have some Division I guys on our offensive line so I think we are starting to develop a relationship with some of the schools when they came in and see some of our kids and like what they see.”
South will open the season on Aug. 24 on the road against Marian Central High School in Woodstock, IL. Marian Central has a Division I player of their own in quarterback Chris Streveler, who has committed to play at the University of Minnesota.