Countdown to kickoff: Harlem looking a size plus speed as the recipe to success

The Huskies are coming off their deepest playoff run in program history.
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 10:59 PM CDT
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MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - “We got a taste of what it’s like to keep going and we all liked it so much that we’ve been killing it in the offseason,” Harlem senior LB Tim Wessels said.

After an 8-1 2021 regular season, Harlem followed their conference runner-up finish with a 5th place finish and a 6-3 record. But the Huskies shined brightest in the postseason as Harlem racked up more postseason wins than the rest of the NIC-10 combined.

That type of season speaks to what head coach Bob Moynihan wants out of his team, one that continues to improve week after week.

“We’ve preached it from day one,” Moynihan said. “We’re really preparing each week to get better each week and last year we did that.”

That week-over-week improvement showed after an 11th-seeded Harlem got wins against #6 Amundsen and #3 Grayslake North to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in team history. But the fun was brought to a screeching halt against Prairie Ridge in the quarterfinals as PR QB Tyler Vasey rushed for a record-setting 481 yards and eight touchdowns on the way to a dominant 69-28 win.

That postseason loss has lead to an offseason dialed in on building speed.

“We wanted them to make a big emphasis on speed after that Prairie Ridge last year so we were going to be a lot faster defensively up front and in the top of the front and we are a lot faster than we were last year,” Moynihan said.

The team not only brings speed, but size as well.

“I love it,” Wessels said. “It feels great to have such big players with me, you know I’m a big player, I’ve always stuck out growing up throughout my years but this year I got teammates that are just like me and it’s going to be great.”

The Huskies bring back a good number of players with starting experience. On defense, Harlem’s front features a senior-exclusive box. On offense, the team brings back QB Derek Anderson, who went 2-0 as a starter last year, three offensive lineman, and standout RB Jahmani Muhammad.

“We added a few new pieces on the team, transfers in so we’re just ready to go out there and compete week one and show that our speed doesn’t lie,” Muhammad said.