Dan Starkey promised to balance his offense during his second year in charge.
The New Trier coach still wants to run the ball with effectiveness, but he’s hoping quarterback Jack Nykaza will put the ball in the air more than last season.
That’s good news for Eric Benjamin.
After not playing much in his first season on the varsity, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior tight end will be one of the featured receivers in New Trier’s offense.
“He worked really hard during the offseason, and we think he can have a great senior year for us,” said Trevians coach Starkey, whose team went 5-5 in his first year, losing in the first round of the state playoffs for the second season in a row.
Last year, Benjamin mostly played in JV games, but his dedication to the sport improved his standing among the coaches in a short period of time.
“He’s a late-bloomer, but he has a very high learning curve,” Starkey said. “With Eric’s size and athleticism, he can play tight end and split out and play wide receiver. He has enough speed and good enough hands to where we can use him all over the field.”
Another senior making an impact in camp is Sam Scherer. The inside linebacker in New Trier’s 3-4 system is back after starting as a junior. The 6-1, 215-pounder also could get looks in the backfield.
“He works hard and is in great shape,” Starkey said of the defensive leader. “He runs well and is one of the strongest players on the team. He understands where he needs to be in pass coverage and against the run.”
New Trier wrapped up its fifth day and 10th practice Monday afternoon. Starkey likes the direction the Trevians are heading.
“It’s going well,” the coach said. “I feel like we have more depth this year, and the players are a little more prepared coming in from the offseason. I hope that shows up in a more physical play this year on the field.”
Starkey and his staff focused mostly on the fundamentals during the first week of the preseason. The Trevians also are looking for roles for the first-year varsity players.
“We want to build some cohesiveness as a team,” he said. “Some of our seniors are showing good signs of leadership right now, and that’s something we expected.
“Overall, we have some talented kids coming up, some juniors. But we don’t know really what we have until we see them in game action. It’s too hard to predict that.”