By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
(23rd year, 189-68 career record)
Coaching Staff: Brian Wervey, defensive coordinator and outside linebackers; Brendan Gallagher, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks; Victor Ricketts, co-offensive coordinator and offensive line; Jay Price, defensive backs; Jim Slagle, defensive line; Jeff Decker, linebackers and junior varsity defense; Drew McVay, wide receivers and junior varsity offense; Mark Dingman, freshmen; Dave Keckan, freshmen.
2022 Record: 8-4 overall; 5-2 Suburban League American Division.
Returning Lettermen (23): Justin Burick, sr.; Enzo Catania, sr.; Rocco Courtad, sr.; Brandon Liepins, sr.; Dominic Trivisonno, sr.; Jayce Unverferth, sr.; James Blaser, sr.; Cooper Carnahan, sr.; Dylan Crasi, sr.; Alex Hanff, sr.; Logan Herrera, sr.; Joey Onk, sr.; Michael Phillips, sr.; Caden Pittinger, sr.; Dmitry Golf, sr.; Alex Brooker, jr.; Peyton Duguay, jr.; Ryan Dwyer, jr.; Ben Lukasik, jr.; Lucas Manderbach, jr.; Brody Markle, jr.; Tommy Tartabini, jr.; Cole Walton, jr.
Lettermen Lost (21): Joey Arnold, Cade Fromwiller, Matt Geier, Zach Nemet, Mate Orgovan, Zach Anzells, Jacob Cici, Kyle Cook, Eric Fredericton, Madon Ganzhorn, Quinn Gorman, Ben Iammarino, Jaedon Kaba, Robby Lewandowski, Armen Perez, Marcus Perez, Sam Retton, Michael Salhani, Alex Tenorio, Drew Walton, Felipe Machado.
The Greenmen plan to run multiple offensive sets this season, including a pro style and spread.
The offensive unit returns only two starters from last season.
Brandon Liepins (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) will be the starter. He has started five games over the last two seasons.
“He is a great pocket-passer, and he is excellent at reading defensive coverages,” Mihalik said.
Junior Ryan Dwyer (6-1, 175) is the team’s backup.
Liepins finished the year, in limited time, with 428 yards passing on 42-of-64 completions. He had four touchdown passes and three interceptions.
The tailback spot will be shared by senior Enzo Catania (6-3, 215) and junior Lucas Manderbach (6-3, 215).
The fullbacks will be senior Justin Burick (6-0, 210) and junior Tommy Tartabini (5-11, 190).
All four saw varsity action last year, either on offense or defense, with Maderbach being the team’s top returning rusher with 188 yards on 23 carries in limited action.
The starting front for Aurora includes juniors Matt Copley (6-3, 275) and Brody Markle (6-2, 225) at tackles. The guards will be senior Rocco Courtad (6-1, 275) and junior Ewan Dacres (5-11, 230), with the center being junior Reid Acomb (5-10, 225).
Backups will be junior Rob Thrash at tackle, senior Logan Herrera and junior Tyler Haus at guard, along with junior Ben Kinkopf at center.
Senior Jayce Unverferth returns after leading the team in touchdown receptions a year ago. He had seven and was also the team’s leading receiver with 18 receptions for 358 yards.
With good size (6-3, 210), he will be another top target for Liepins this season.
Junior Alex Brooker and senior Dmitry Volt will provide depth.
Aurora graduates its core group from last season, with Zach Anzells, Sam Retton, Cade Fromwiller and Alex Tenorio all accounting for 65 receptions and 781 yards.
Seniors Dylan Crasi, Dom Trivisonno and Cooper Carnahan are the next in line for the Greenmen to fill that void on the edge.
In the slot, Aurora will use senior Michael Phillips, alongside juniors Ben Lukas and Zach Pannetti.
The Greenmen return five starters and will use a 4-3 as their base defense, but will also mix in multiple fronts.
Catania returns as the leader of the group and will start at an inside-linebacker spot. He led Aurora in total tackles last year with 68.
The other inside linebacker will be Tartabini.
On the outside will be Unverferth, junior Cole Walton and senior Alex Hanff.
Courtad and Burick anchor the group — both returning starters from last season.
Courtad finished 2022 with 41 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for a loss.
Burick had 39 tackles a year ago.
Juniors Matt Copley and Brody Markle will provide depth, along with junior Tyler Hanus.
Starting at defensive end will be Manderbach and junior Alex Brooker.
Junior Ewan Dacres and Herrera are the backups.
Crasi is a returning starter at cornerback and had 47 tackles last.
The other starting corner spot will come down to a battle between Pannetti and seniors Caden Pittinger and James Blaser.
Trivisonno is the team’s returning free safety. He had 37 tackles and two interceptions a year ago. Depth will be provided Carnahan, Phillips and Lukasik.
Trivisonno returns for his third consecutive year as the starting place-kicker. He kicked for 55 points last season, connecting on 3-of-4 field goals and 46-of-48 extra points. He will also step in as the team’s punter this season.
Tartabini, Maderbach, Lukasik, Copley and Brooker.
“We only return two full-time starters on offense,” Mihalik said. “Our defense may have to carry the way, while the offense finds its footing.”