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April 26, 2012
Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
With a run of five consecutive state finals appearances, Wheaton (Ill.) Wheaton-Warrenville South has established itself as the premier high school football program in the state of Illinois. The Tigers have claimed three state titles and two runners-up in that time span - as well as No. 11 finish in the RivalsHigh 100 following the 2010 football season.
Following a 2011 season that saw the team's offensive output drop to just 274 points (from 590 in 2010), it was easy to see what could hold the 2012 team back. And according to Tim O'Halloran, who has covered prep football in Illinois for EdgyTim.com since 1995, the team's problem was at quarterback.
"The offense had no consistency," he said. "They went through three or four different quarterbacks and never found one that they could stick with for various reasons - inconsistent play or injuries - yet they made it to the Class 7A state final game with a rotating quarterback.
"If South can get steady play at the position at all this year, they will be a load again."
This year that should be much less of a problem as 6-foot-1, 200-pound Casey Paraday has transferred into the school district.
The Class of 2014 quarterback moved to Illinois following a season at Springdale (Ark.) Shiloh Christian - and a freshman season at Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton.
Josh Floyd, his former coach at Shiloh Christian, said that Wheaton-Warrenville South is getting a good player and a good kid.
"They are going to like Casey a lot," Floyd said. "He is what you want in a quarterback, focused and hard-working with a strong arm."
Floyd added that his big-time arm came with a willingness to improve.
"He came in late and so he didn't get the early reps with us," he said. "But once he learned what we were doing, he excelled."
Paraday played sporadically during the season and didn't earn a start for Shiloh Christian until Week 10, but when he did he was very good.
His first game he completed 39-of-59 passes for 483 yards and three touchdowns. He ended the season with 1,567 yards and 15 touchdowns and earned a start in the playoffs.
"He has a lot of potential," Floyd said. "We hate to see anyone leave our program, but we know he will do well."
O'Halloran said that with Paraday and the talent at Wheaton-Warrenville South, both can succeed again this season.
"They bring back four starting offensive lineman from last year, which will be huge," he said. "On offense they like to mix things up and show a good balance; when they can run and pass, they are as hard to defend as anyone."
While the team has to replace 11 senior contributors on defense, its offense should be able to improve from last season and push the team back to the state finals and the national rankings.
"They reload better than anyone else in Illinois," O'Halloran said. "They also have speed and skills in house."