Kroner's football tour '14: Rantoul
RANTOUL — Ira Jefferson views the position battles within the Rantoul football team as win-win situations.
One good choice is contending with another good choice in each battle.
The competition at tailback is the perfect example. Two underclassmen in the 6-foot-2, 210-pound range are top prospects.
Junior Kenyatta Wilson and sophomore Onycai Lawson are the challengers.
“They run well for big kids,” Jefferson said.
Lawson is the more elusive of the two. Wilson is the one who will power past people.
They will join two returning starters in the backfield: quarterback Anthony Parker and fullback Jacob Monroe.
Monroe and Wilson also played regularly as linebackers a year ago. Jefferson said Monroe has “come into his own and is more of a vocal leader and a leader by action.”
The other starter returning on defense is end T.C. Cooper, a junior. Parker is projected as a starter at safety.
“Defense will be a strength,” he said. “They are flying to the ball, and our defensive line will be steady.”
Varsity experience last season is paying dividends.
“Last year, kids were in position to make plays but just didn’t make them,” Jefferson said. “Now they have the attitude, ‘We’ve got to make the play.’ ”
The school’s second-year head coach believes overall participation in the sport has declined because of a recently instituted soccer club. “We lost eight to 10 kids to soccer,” Jefferson said.
Rantoul opens its season Aug. 29 at Charleston.
“We are going to be a very young football team,” Jefferson said, “but they showed me they can compete by the way they played this summer.”
Thanks to a shift to the Okaw Valley Conference, the Eagles’ schedule features six different opponents than last fall.
It’s a time of change, and Jefferson hopes his players are excited about the move.
“When you get something new, you have to embrace it,” he said.
Coach: Ira Jefferson, second year
2013 record: 0-9
2014 roster size: 56
Home opener: Sept. 5, vs. Shelbyville, 7 p.m.