Football: Lockport aims to put 1-8 in rear-view mirror
By Dick Goss email@example.com June 23, 2013 3:56PM
Lockport receiver John Zapotoczny (right) battles Oak Forest's Nick Ciufia for the ball. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 25, 2013 6:35AM
Lockport coach Don McKillip described the Porters’ day at the University of St. Francis 7-on-7 Passing Jamboree as interesting.
When your Nos. 1 and 2 quarterbacks are on the baseball team and participating in the 19U tournament in Omaha, Neb., your offense may not get as much accomplished as otherwise would be the case.
But McKillip is not complaining.
“We really like having multisport athletes,” McKillip said Wednesday at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium. “That’s a big push with us. First, kids don’t get tired of football, and second, we feel competition breeds success.”
Success is something this senior class has been missing, at least in football. McKillip said the incoming seniors were 2-7 as freshmen and 3-6 as sophomores. Then in 2012, their first taste of varsity ball, the Porters finished 1-8. That was after Lockport made the playoffs and finished 7-4 in ’11, McKillip’s first season.
“What we have to do is convince the senior class that they can be successful,” McKillip said. “Last year is a thing of the past, don’t worry about it. The junior class coming up was 4-5 last year as sophomores, but key guys were up on the varsity. They would have had a better record had that not been the case.”
“Our leadership will be better,” said junior linebacker Tyler Johnson, who played fullback on the varsity after recovering from a broken right hand that sidelined him the first third of the season. “We have some leaders coming up from the sophomore team.
“The attitude is totally different. We’re going to surprise a lot of people. We’re working hard every practice. We’re catching up from a teamwork and dedication standpoint.”
Johnson, whose brother, Brad, was an All-State wrestler and All-Area football player at Lockport and now is entering his sophomore year as a wrestler at Oklahoma, said his primary position is outside linebacker, and he is eager to spend a full season there.
“Tyler needs a chance to get out and run,” McKillip said.
“I hope I can play both sides of the ball, but outside linebacker is my primary position,” Johnson said. “I broke the hand playing linebacker in practice last year, and when I got back, fullback was the best place for me to play.
“I was sad when I got hurt about losing a spot on the varsity. It was the first time I had to sit out with a football injury.”
Johnson has a good mentor a phone call away. “I talk to him (brother Brad) quite a bit,” he said. “He’ll give me some tips. He might have lacked a little speed when he played, but he was smart.”
Johnson can run. He said he was “clocked at 4.6 (in the 40-yard dash), but whether that was legitimate is questionable.”
With Johnson not playing defense in 2012, Tommy Bochenek made the most of his opportunity at linebacker, and he returns.
“Tommy made a player of himself last year,” McKillip said.
McKillip said Lockport should be better defensively. Among the defensive leaders are end Justin Krzeczkowski, free safety Ryan Reed and lineman Evan King.
With Dalton and Quade in Omaha, Billy Krawczyk quarterbacked at the 7-on-7.
“Dalton more than likely will be our starter, but he and Quade have been so busy with baseball that we haven’t seen them much,” McKillip said.
“We’ll have different packages for each quarterback. Last year, we got hurt because we had no game breakers. I think we have more of that in the mix this year. We’re faster.”
Senior Brendan Reed, Ryan’s twin, and junior Sean Kelly will be inviting targets. Trevor Bays, who also can play quarterback but is likely to contribute at running back, provides an offensive spark.