Wilmington football

 Wilmington High School's Jacob Friddle breaks a tackle attempt from Peotone High School's Andrew Janjanin during last season's game in Peotone.

Mason Schweizer

Mason Schweizer

Fall 2021 Outlook

Head Coach: Jeff Reents (28th season)

Career Record: 236-62

Conference: Illinois Central Eight

Last Playoff: Class 3A Quarterfinalist, 2019

Best Playoff: Class 3A State Champions, 2014

2020-21 Record: 5-0

Fall 2021 Schedule

8/27 7 p.m. @Marengo

9/3 7 p.m. Johnsburg

9/10 7 p.m. @Coal City

9/17 7 p.m. Peotone

9/24 7 p.m. @Herscher

10/1 7 p.m. Reed-Custer

10/8 7 p.m. @Lisle

10/15 7 p.m. Streator

10/22 7 p.m. @Manteno

Wilmington proved to be the epitome of consistency once again last spring, dashing through last spring’s abbreviated season in the Illinois Central Eight with a 5-0 record and another conference crown.

As the Wildcats prepare to defend their title, and also reach the playoffs for a 25th-straight season under hall of fame coach Jeff Reents, returning Daily Journal All-Area running back and defensive back Jacob Friddle has a pretty simple approach to the season.

“We’ve just gotta play hard and never take a play off,” Friddle said.

Coming off of their unbeaten season, Reents knows there are a few shoes to fill from a handful of months ago, but the uncharacteristically quick turnaround has provided the opportunity to hit the ground running.

“It’s such a quick turnaround; I think particularly for us we were able to maintain a good spring season,” Reents said. “I think some of the retention you would lose over nine months, we were kind of able to pick up from where we left off in the spring.”

With key two-way pieces like Friddle, all-state linebacker, tight end and kicker Allan Richards, offensive and defensive lineman Dominic Dingillo and linebacker and fullbacker Karsen Hansen back to lead on both sides of the ball, Reents is comfortable with where his team is despite the lack of a full, traditional summer to get going.

“We have a lot of seniors that saw a lot of time as juniors...and going into their senior year [this summer] they weren’t vocal and I can see in practice we’re getting there,” Reents said. “I just see the communication and we have to rely on those guys to show the younger kids how it’s done.”

There are several playmakers with experience for Reents and company, but not many that have the experience of a full season and a postseason, something Reents said he and his staff have had to remind themselves of sometimes.

“I think for us as a coaching staff, you might take some things for granted some of the things they know,” Reents said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to make the playoffs and bring younger kids up to get two or three more weeks of practice.

“I just find at times coaching wise where we think they would know something by now, but they don’t have that experience yet, so of course they don’t know that by now.”

Kaden Humphries has picked things up as Jack Narine’s replacement at quarterback. Ryan Banas will pick up some slack in the secondary, while Colin James has caught Reents’ attention in the offensive backfield and Kaleb Patterson has made waves on both sides of the ball at cornerback and tight end.

As the Wildcats let the pieces fall into place ahead of the season, they know once kickoff begins with a lengthy road trip to Marengo Friday, a road trip to Johnsburg will follow before another tough grind of Illinois Central Eight play, meaning the Wildcats will have to earn every bit of respect they hope to gain along the way this year.

“That’s one thing we try to hold in this program is we wanna make sure we keep expectations and standards where they’re supposed to be,” Reents said. “It’ll be as tough as ever with a tough schedule and I see the ICE as tough as it’s ever been.

“We have some teams that have stepped up and we have a lot of work to do to keep up.”

Quick Hits

Dominic Dingillo, OL/DL

Favorite artist: Lil Uzi Vert

Dream vacation: Hawaii

Favorite football player: Khalil Mack

One person who makes you smile: Dad

Secret talent: Burping on command

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.