Gibault has an impressive stockpile of freshman talent. How it holds up against varsity competition is a concern for coach Matt Reeb.
“I can’t tell how good we are right now. That’s my biggest issue,” said Reeb, whose Hawks finished 9-5-4 last season. “Some days, we look good. Other days, I’m not so sure. For the most part, you’re (always) a little unsure, but I think more so this year just because of the amount of inexperience we have on our team.”
Things were very different two years ago when Gibault took down Chicago F.W. Parker and Herscher to win the Class 1A state championship in Normal.
“Back in 2013, I knew what we had,” Reeb said. “I had nine starting seniors and I knew how good we were going to be. This year is a little more unknown. We’re not very old, that’s for sure.”
Gibault, which opens the season at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Waterloo, has just five seniors. Only two of them will be starters: center defender Jake Rueter and center midfielder Caleb Schilling.
“They bring some experience,” Reeb said. “They’ve been around the game a while, so they offer us stability around a lot of young talent. I think they’ll both do well as far as leadership. They’re smart players. Jake communicates very well. Caleb will provide some offense, but he will be more of a holding midfielder. He gives us strength and speed in the middle.”
Senior Austin Murphy will play wing defender in a reserve capacity.
Two juniors, Dalton Scace and Ben Mueth, will lead the forward line that also will include freshman Logan Doerr. Mueth had five goals and five assists last year.
“I don’t know what to expect completely out of (Doerr),” Reeb said. “I expect Dalton and Ben to be able to produce some goals. Those three can add some scoring punch. I don’t want to say Logan will have a big year as a freshman, but hopefully he’ll take the load off the juniors. They bring back some experience. They found the back of the net on occasion and grew a lot.”
Another freshman, Carson Huels, will start in the midfield, while freshmen Dylan Altadonna (defender) and Cameron Kincheloe (defender/midfielder) are pushing their way into the picture.
“This freshman class has a bright future,” Reeb said. “Some of them know that. They’re very confident in their abilities and some of them are ready to help us on the varsity level. Some of them are talented players that will need some time to grow into their bodies and add strength and speed and size.”
Other players to watch include junior defender Jacob Hooser, junior midfielder Ryan Gool, sophomore midfielders Aaron Grohmann and Jordan Floerke, sophomore defender Robert Lugge and sophomore forward Zack Gillan. Grohmann and Lugge are trying to nail down starting spots.
Junior Trevor Davis, who posted eight shutouts, 59 saves and a 0.64 goals-against average last season, returns as the starter in the net.
“He came a long way last year,” Reeb said. “He started off just kind of learning the position and learning how to play. But he’s such an athlete and he picked up on it so quick. That transition has carried over and he looks a lot more comfortable than he’s been.”