Preseason No. 17 - Elk Grove

No. 17 Elk Grove

Last season: 7-4 overall, 3-2 Mid-Suburban League East, eliminated in Class 7A second round

Season ahead: Grenadiers coach Brian Doll was concerned whether he had enough footballs and practice jerseys when his team first met last year. Now as Doll enters his second season at Elk Grove, he and his team are much further along.

Last year’s 7-4 record and second-round playoff appearance was a good starting point for the program under Doll, but he and his team are searching for more in 2010.

“Last year was all about getting the little things done, crossing all the ‘T’s and dotting all the ‘I’s,” Doll said. “I think looking back … that first year was hectic.”

Elk Grove does have the personnel back to make a longer run. It returns 16 of its 22 starters. Most notably, quarterback Nick Meyer is back. Meyer was overshadowed by other quarterbacks in the Mid-Suburban League last season, but that won’t be the case this season. Meyer is smarter and stronger than a year ago and is now drawing Division I interest. He’ll also have plenty of experience around him on the line and at the skilled positions.

Defensively, linebacker Josh Bishoff leads an experienced group. Bishoff had 15 tackles for a loss last season and four sacks. Bishoff, Meyer and Eddie Stahl will play both ways. Elk Grove returns its entire secondary.

Player to watch: Senior wide receiver Eddie Stahl may not be the team’s greatest athlete, but there’s probably not a more intelligent player on the team. It’ll be surprising if Stahl isn’t a coach himself one day. With that IQ, Stahl should be a constant target for Meyer this year. Stahl also will play defensive back.

Newcomer to watch: Junior linebacker Greg Johnson.

Key game: Sept. 10 at Fremd – The Vikings are still the team to beat in the Mid-Suburban League. Elk Grove could prove itself with a win over Fremd on the road.

What they’re saying: “We feel like we’re raising the level and have higher goals and expectations than last year,” Elk Grove coach Brian Doll said. “Some people think we’re crazy to say we want to win a state championship. That’s the goal the boys have put forth. That’s what we want to do. They may have been scared to talk about that in the past. We’re talking about it now.”