New era starts for football program at NIACC
A new era of football begins this fall at NIACC as newly hired head coach Steve LaLonde looks to lead the Trojans to a third straight bowl appearance.
After former coach Scott Strohmeier resigned to take a head job at Iowa Western, the search for a new head coach lasted until June, but the Trojans feel like they found the right guy for the job.
LaLonde and his new coaching staff have a large task at hand while evaluating almost 115 players at camp, 20 of whom have joined the team after LaLonde’s arrival.
“I try to make the practices strict, but fun,” LaLonde said about how he has tried to increase the comfort level at camp. “We did wheel barrow races, pushed a tractor down the field and went bowling.”
The Trojans return many impact players from last year and also have freshmen competing for starting positions.
Travis Liechti rushed for 696 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2007 and will be a solid force at the running back position.
“Travis really has wowed me with his quickness and agility,” LaLonde said.
LaLonde brings an offense that will operate 95% from the shotgun. He said the passes and quick style of offense will set up the run as well.
On the defensive side, the Trojans secondary returns many starters. Laquentin Black, StarMeek Jones and DJ Pratt combined for 8 interceptions and 171 tackles in 2007, and look to lockdown opposing receivers again in 2008.
The Trojans will face the same teams as last season, including Joliet Junior College, the team they lost to in the Graphic Edge Bowl last November.
The first game is against William Penn J.V. on September 1 at 6 p.m. at Mohawk Field.
Aside from watching a lot of tape on his players that he has only seen play football for one summer, LaLonde said he thinks the little things such as adjusting to the new scheme and playbook he has brought to the Trojans will be a main factor in how successful they are.
“We are still evaluating players everyday and will be throughout the season,” LaLonde said. “Finding the best 22 players and getting them onto the field is our goal.”