Dundee-Crown quarterback Evan Echlin hands the ball off to running back Davontae Harvey  during football practice July 8 in Carpentersville. The Chargers are coming off a 4-5 season, their best finish since 2013.
Dundee-Crown quarterback Evan Echlin hands the ball off to running back Davontae Harvey during football practice July 8 in Carpentersville. The Chargers are coming off a 4-5 season, their best finish since 2013. — Gregory Shaver for Shaw Media

CARPENTERSVILLE – The term Dundee-Crown coach Mike Steinhaus frequently utilized regarding the 2018 season was “meaningful football.”

The Chargers, wanted to be playing games late in the season that still meant something concerning a shot at the postseason. They did that, taking a 4-4 record into Week 9 at Huntley.

Although D-C lost to the Red Raiders, 55-12, it marked progress for the program, which hadn't won more than two games in a season since making the playoffs in 2013.

“That was the second-most successful season we’ve had in 20 years,” Chargers guard-linebacker Tony Fakhoury said. “So we’re trying to keep pushing to make the playoffs and winning more games each year and build off of that.”

Steinhaus, a D-C graduate himself, hopes the Chargers can keep pushing forward.

“We’re trying to build the program,” he said. “We’re trying to build on being consistent. We have some older guys who have done it before. We have guys who are moving up to varsity and we’re trying to get them consistent and understand the work and the process it’s going to take to play meaningful football like we did last year.”

Fakhoury, a senior, is one of those players. Senior tight end-defensive end Justin Prusko is another.

“We know what type of work we have to put in in order to be successful this season,” Prusko said. “Our seniors have to work hard and help the underclassmen with learning. Just getting used to varsity football. They’re working hard and the seniors are helping them.”

Prusko (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) has received offers from NCAA Division I Northern Illinois University and Southeast Missouri State. He, Fakhoury and linebacker Jhalon Reese, who was D-C’s Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, will be heavily relied on.

The Chargers will miss several graduated players like quarterback Josh Raby, running back Ricky Ibarra, wide receivers Jordan Hairston and Jack Michalski and lineman Gabe Kurzynski.

Raby, now playing at D-III Dubuque, may be the most prolific quarterback in school history. He threw for 3,000 total yards and 28 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Ibarra ran for 1,942 yards over the last two seasons and Hairston and Michalski each caught 25 passes last year.

“It’s going to be tough. We had a lot of good guys,” Fakhoury said. “We’ll have decent numbers. We have some (good) athletes on this team. We may not be the biggest, but we have some athletes and hard-working guys.”

Steinhaus said senior Evan Echlin and junior Matt Ward are competing at quarterback. He likes what he has seen from running backs Davontae Harvey, Amairie Jones and Lajuan Gaines.

“We’re putting some things together,” Steinhaus said. “Now it’s getting them to play football.”