Features | Friday Night Drive

Jacobs is ready for more after strong 2021 playoff run

Paulie Rudolph receives hand-off from quarterback Max Benner during football practice Monday, June 20, 2022, at Jacobs High School in Algonquin.

Jacobs savored a nice, long taste of playoff football last season and found it delicious.

The Golden Eagles won their first two Class 7A playoff games, reaching the quarterfinals for the third time in school history, before Prospect knocked them out.

That playoff success, along with 16 returning starters, bodes well for the Eagles this fall, when they likely will be considered a favorite in the Fox Valley Conference.

“We can’t live off our success last season, we have to make our own success this season,” lineman Will Siebert said. “But it gives us the idea that we can do [it] this year.”

Fullback-linebacker Paulie Rudolph feels like the postseason run instilled confidence and expressed similar thoughts.

“It’s awesome to feel that we did that and everything,” Rudolph said. “I feel like we should build on that this year though. I feel like we have more in us.”

Jacobs running backs Ben Ludlum (1,732 yards, 25 touchdowns) and Nasir Canty (1,366, 20) finished first and fourth on the area rushing list and have graduated. Most of the Eagles’ other key players are back, led by Siebert, tight ends Grant Stec and Nick True, along with Rudolph and Antonio Brown at linebacker, both of whom likely will play both ways and carry the ball in the backfield.

Will Siebert rushes a blocker during football practice Monday, June 20, 2022, at Jacobs High School in Algonquin.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster for the kids,” Jacobs coach Brian Zimmerman said of the postseason success. “One thing we stressed, though, is, ‘Let’s not dwell on last season.’ The momentum has helped with numbers for sure. At the lower level we have 120 for camp total, we have 55 for varsity, which is a good number.

“From the offseason, the seniors really took what happened last year and built on that without dwelling on it.”

Siebert, Kyle Koziel and Matt Shannon return to lead the offensive line, and quarterback Max Benner, who will be a junior, returns at quarterback. Jacobs wants to utilize True and Stec, both of whom are 6-foot-6, to add another dimension to the offense.

“We’re definitely going to add some changes to our offense from last year because last year was straight run,” True said. “We worked a lot with our QB in the offseason. We have to throw some, and if we start passing it’s going to throw the defense off-guard because they’ll think we’re just going to run.

“We’re coming in ready this year, we have a lot to show.”

Stec, who has 20 NCAA Division I scholarship offers, had 25 receptions last season and True had nine.

Jacobs’ defensive side has plenty of experience as well from a team that allowed only 27 points in its first two playoff games.

The last time a team other than Cary-Grove, Huntley or Prairie Ridge won the FVC, or the FVC Valley when the conference had two divisions, came in 2013. Jacobs won the FVC Valley that season.

Zimmerman wants his players to keep working on the basics every day.

“We just really kind of focused on our four pillars,” Zimmerman said. “No. 1: Have fun, then accountability, speed and toughness. We’re really hoping to continue to build from that. We have 15 or 16 starters back from last year, which is really nice. And they’re all really good kids. They’re kids you would want as your own kids, super respectful good kids.

“The big thing is accountability, doing what we need to do in the offseason. It’s one of the strongest teams we’ve had, but I tell them that doesn’t mean anything unless it translates on the field.”