Fall High School Football Preview: Bulldogs bring depth, upperclassmen into new season
Harrisburg will have upperclassmen — and lots of them — this season.
Bulldogs head coach Al Way the Southwest Illinois News that he has good depth and a good number of upperclassmen — 40 juniors and seniors — to build on last year's 7-3 team that averaged more than 30 points a game.
Returning starters are offensive tackle Nick Foster, offensive guard Jeremy Wright, fullback/linebacker Jordan Bartok, outside linebacker Blake Drue and tight end/linebacker Peyton Jackson.
“Herrin and Murphysboro are (Southern Illinois River-to-River Ohio Conference) favorites,” Way said.
Eight starters are back from last year's Rangers team that went 2-7.
Head coach Bob Pankey called quarterback Hamilton Page, a starter as a sophomore in 2015, “dynamic” as a player who can throw and run. Joining Page as returning offensive starters are four-year starting lineman Bryden Picklesimer and wide receiver Oliver Davis.
On defense, five starters are back: linebackers Picklesimer, Gavin Richardson and Blane Pankey; lineman Eli Lampley; and back Oliver Davis.
“This season we don't have much depth, but we have some dynamic players that could do some things for us if we stay healthy,” Coach Pankey said.
Size, speed and experience are the strengths of this year's edition of the Warriors, head coach Aaron Elmore said
Twenty-eight letter winners are back, including 10 starters on offense and nine on defense. Last year, the team averaged 208.4 rushing yards per game to go with 72 passing yards en route to 21.9 points and 366 all-purpose yards per game.
Defensively, the Warriors allowed 29.9 points a contest and had 16 takeaways to go with nine sacks.
“We are expecting to compete at a high level, while improving on last yea's playoff berth,” Elmore said.
It's been a challenging past two seasons for the Eagles, who have gone 1-17 in that span.
Junior Brody Conley returns as a starter on the offensive line and “has done a superb job for us all summer and preseason,” head coach Mike Rude said. Juniors Peyton Massey and Nolan Dahncke will be in the team's backfield rotation. Senior Christian Funk also returns to the offensive line.
NOTE: Not all area coaches returned information before this story went to press.