New head coach Joe Burchett was an assistant last season to Jeremy Sanfilippo, who stepped down from leading the Explorers to have more time to watch his kids play college soccer. He left a successful tenure at Marquette, which included a Class 1A state title in 2012.
Burchett said much of what the team did with Sanfilippo will stay the same but with more flexibility.
“Our formation will be a little different, our style of play will be slightly different than what Jeremy did,” Burchett said. “I told the boys that I am flexible on formation; if we play a big school we will play one way and if we play a smaller school we can play a different way. I’ll tinker around with it and see what works.”
The Explorers will be adjusting to life without Zach Weinman, who graduated. Weinman scored 21 goals and finished with 16 assists in 2016.
“We have a lot of returning players, returning starters, eight in total, which bodes well for us,” Burchett said. “We are still a little on the young side. We were young last year; I think we only have three seniors so we will use a lot of juniors and sophomores.”
Key returners include Aaron Boulch, Noah Fahnestock and Chris Hartrich. Hartrich, now a junior, had 17 goals and 11 assists last season as a sophomore, second only to Weinman.
Junior goalie Nick Hemann looks to be a stalwart in the nets again for the Explorers, too.
Mike Walters takes over the reins of the team this year from Jim Claywell. Walters has coached the boys team for the last three years and decided to take on a new challenge.
“It has been a lot of fun; it has been a learning curve for me, because I have worked with the boys, and the girls ... it’s interesting because they really like to have fun,” Walters said. “They want to learn and we have a lot of good kids. I can see a lot of talent in a lot of the kids and it is just going to take coaching and bringing out their play. I stress to them that you can’t just hit the ball, you have to have a plan on how to defeat the person that you are playing.”
Helping Walters guide the team will be returning senior Shelby Jones, who has twice qualified for state in her prep career.
“Shelby is an excellent player; she has really taken charge of being captain of the team, and she is going to be a heck of a player. She has played a lot and really knows what she is doing,” Walters said. “She has certainly been giving it her all and has become the team leader and it’s great to have someone like that, the other girls can look to her to see an example of what to do.”
Walters also sees Katie Ventimiglia and Maria Wendell as key contributors. Unfortunately, Wendell is injured and out the first couple of weeks of the season.
This will be Darrell Angleton’s third season at the helm of the Explorers.
His tenure so far has been successful, having made the postseason both years prior. Now he hopes to ride a wealth of player experience in 16 seniors and 10 juniors into the postseason again.
Returning running backs Treven Swingler and D’Avion Peebles will definitely contribute toward that goal. The pair combined for more than 1,500 yards rushing last season, with Peebles running for 785 and Swingler for 777. Point-wise, Peebles had 12 touchdowns last year as a junior, while Swingler had 11 as a sophomore.
Other key returners include wide receiver John Blachford, linebacker Will Hurst, defensive tackle James Malone, defensive end Alex Roberts and Jayce Maag, who will take over quarterback duties for the graduated Brady McAfee.
Angleton didn’t let his team miss a beat over the summer. The players participated in two voluntary practices three times a week, working on speed and agility training, weights and running routes.
Marquette opens at home at 7 p.m. Friday against Civic Memorial.
Junior Kolten Bauer hopes to use a spectacular showing at the recent Hickory Stick Invitational at Belk Park Golf Course to springboard his 2017 golf season.
Bauer medaled in the event after a two-round playoff. He followed by medaling at the Alton Tee Off Classic while senior Jack Patterson tied for medalist at the Madison County Tournament.
Bauer will be looked upon to help lead the team this year, which features Patterson and junior Sam Cogan with extensive varsity experience. Jack Warren and William Roderfeld will also contribute. Patterson is the lone senior.
Ryan Geisler, a 2004 graduate from East Alton-Wood River, is getting his first crack at coaching high school golf. He takes over a program with a winning history. Pat Moore left after five years and five regional titles, a sectional crown and three state berths. The Explorers were fourth at Class 1A state in 2012 and seventh in Class 2A in ‘15 and ‘16.
Marquette features five seniors, a junior and three sophomores this season.
Returning are seniors Heidi Amberg, C’Mara Barrett, Sarah Gratton, Ellie Kane and Lauren Walsh. Kane recently had a good showing at the 2017 Madison County Tournament, shooting a 79. Gratton and Walsh both finished top 10 at the same tournament, helping the Explorers win the small-school division.
Head coach Deb Walsh is looking forward to the year and is hopeful about this squad. Last year the Explorers won regionals and hope to make it further in ‘17.
Another senior-laden team looks to use experience to its advantage.
Coach Sue Heinz led the Explorers to a 13-19 mark in 2016 and to a 16-11 record in ‘15 and will be returning in ‘17 with mostly the same personnel, but with more experience.
Seniors Marissa Nosco, Jennifer Copeland, Carly Creel, Grace Frost, Regina Guehlstorf, Lauren Heinz, Peyton Kline, Amanda Murray and Jenna Zacha will be counted on to produce a winning season in their final year.
Nosco led the team last year with 499 assists, while Guehlstorf returns as the best attacker with 148 kills a year ago.
Sophomore Riley Vickrey is shooting for another outstanding season for Marquette in ‘17.
Last year, Vickrey was the Explorers’ lone state qualifier. She placed fourth at the Class 1A Metro East Lutheran Sectional to clinch a state berth. She also won the Alton Invitational and placed first in the freshman division of the East Alton-Wood River Invitational.
Junior Kennedi Koetzle is also back for the girls team this fall.
Seniors Seth Cox and Jackson Dooling and sophomore Nick Hamm are the returning runners on the boys team.
Mike Brooks returns as coach for the Explorers.