20 Days to Kickoff: Neuqua Valley

Edgy Tim
NBC Sports Chicago

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we'll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Neuqua Valley

Head coach: Bill Ellinghaus

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Assistant coaches: Rodney Jones, J.R. Niklos, Clayton Figi, Joey Michaels, Jason Berry, Tom Trayser, Jack Smilanic, Tim Company, Mike Parton, Dominic Piscitiello, David Ricca, Bill Miller, Billy Ellinghaus and Jeff Wynne

How they fared in 2018: 6-4 (3-1 DuPage Valley Conference). Neuqua Valley made the Class 8A state playoff field and lost to Warren Township in opening round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 6 @ Stevenson

Sept. 13 vs East St. Louis

Sept. 20 vs DeKalb

Spet. 27 @ Waubonsie Valley

Oct. 4 vs Naperville Central

Oct. 11 @ Metea Valley

Oct. 18 @ Naperville North

Oct 25. @ Metea Valley

[MORE: 50 Days to Kickoff - DeKalb]

Biggest storyline: It may be the schedule. Can the Wildcats, not only survive the rigors of the DVC, but stay above water after a September schedule that includes a date with East St. Louis? They also finish with four of five on the road.  If they reach the postseason, how deep can they play into November?

Names to watch this season: QB Mark Gronowski (Sr., South Dakota State) and WR Sean Larkin (Sr., SIU)

Biggest holes to fill: The Wildcats will welcome back 12 returning starters (nine offense, three defense) this season and will need to fill holes on the defensive side of the football.

EDGY's Early Take: Neuqua Valley and head coach Bill Ellinghaus feature a strong senior class. The Wildcats will look forward to an offense that has some real potential to put up some big numbers this season. QB Mark Gronowski (Sr., 6-foot-2, 180 pounds) has a big arm and is a very capable runner. He has several quality receivers back, including WR Sean Larkin (Sr.), WR Patrick Hoffmann (Sr.), WR Garrett Stare (Jr.) and RB Armani Moreno (Jr.). On the defensive side of the football, DE JJ Robertson (Sr., 6-foot-3, 260 pounds) is a name to watch this. As mentioned, the regular season schedule is loaded. The Wildcats will need to play six regular season games on the road, including the final three. That's never an easy task.

20 Days to Kickoff: Neuqua Valley originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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