Ethan McCarty

Bradley-Bourbonnais’ Ethan McCarty carries the ball in the team’s home opener against O’Fallon last season.

2021 Outlook

Head Coach: Mike Kohl (10th season)

Career Record: 54-37

Conference: SouthWest Suburban

Last Playoff: Class 7A Second Round, 2016

Best Playoff: Class 7A Semifinalist, 2015

2019 Record: 4-5

2021 Schedule

3/19 6:30 p.m. Lincoln-Way Central

3/27 1 p.m. @Bolingbrook

4/3 1 p.m. @Andrew

4/9 6 p.m. Stagg

4/16 6 p.m. @Lincoln-Way West

4/23 6 p.m. Sandburg

The formula for the Bradley-Bourbonnais football team during Mike Kohl’s tenure has largely been the same year-after-year: fight like hell to win five games in a gruesome SouthWest Suburban Conference to make the playoffs and see what kind of run can be made from there. It’s been a successful plan when the Boilermakers make the playoffs, as they won at least one postseason game in a four-year stretch from 2013-2016.

There won’t be a chance for Kohl and the Boilers to make their first playoff appearance since that 2016 season this spring, but for the six weeks the team is out there, the only thing different about the atmosphere this season compared to some of those memorable playoff moments is the addition of spring fever.

“Not having playoffs isn’t fun to talk about but it’s kind of nice because we know we have six weeks to start on Monday, fly around and get ready to play a football game,” Kohl said. “It’s gonna be six straight weeks of dogfights and great football games, and it’ll be great for our kids to be in a competitive atmosphere.”

Fans have been accustomed to seeing Keaton Schmidt quarterback on on North St. every Friday. But with their three-year signal-caller gone to graduation, a pair of talented juniors have been in such a strong competition that the Boilers will enter the season with a two-quarterback approach in Neal May Jr., and Caige Williams.

“We feel like we have two kids that can win football games,” Kohl said. “Competition breeds success and they’ve been competing really hard with each other.”

Both quarterbacks will have a line made exclusively of upperclassmen, including multi-year starters in seniors tackle Jack Priller and center Caleb Ozee. Daniel Schultz will miss the season at running back with an injury, but fellow senior and capable playmaker Ethan McCarty is back to handle primary ballcarrying duties.

“We want to try and establish the run game and pound the ball, especially with the spring weather and how things could be different with rain,” Kohl said. “Our goal is to run the ball to set up the playaction pass and get our quarterbacks out of the pocket, where they can throw it on the run.”

Whether it’s blocking as a fullback or disrupting backfields from the interior of the defensive line, Hollist Daniels is the player Kohl is most excited for this spring.

“He’s probably one of the strongest kids we’ve ever had in the weight room and a great kid,” Kohl said. “He’s definitely a great role model for our younger kids and a great leader on both sides of the ball.”

Daniels will form an interior with Lorenzo Burns that Kohl said is one of the best in school history. Experience abounds the entire defense with linebackers Detric Dee and Anthony Mancilla ready to take on larger roles. Starting cornerback Chris Vinardi is also back while linebacker Nate Murphy and safeties Caleb Barclay and Cody Kazupski bringing youthful athleticism.

In a short season amidst a short prep calendar this year, while Kohl and his program want to thicken their win column as much as possible, he doesn’t want to lose sight of the most important part of the football season.

“We don’t have a lot of time and the X’s and O’s are important, but we have to keep an eye on the kids’ emotional needs,” Kohl said. “I don’t think people realize the effect [COVID-19] has had on young people — it’s been devastating and I use that word comfortably because I’ve seen it.

“Just to be out with the kids, to talk and joke with them and make them realize it’s not just about football has been really important.”

Mason Schweizer is an award-winning reporter who has been with the Daily Journal since 2017 and sports editor since 2019. Save for time at the University of Illinois and Wayne State College, Mason is a lifelong area resident.