Daily Egyptian

Du Quoin scrimmage game for SIU football offers homecoming, preview of season

Saluki football players celebrate on the sidelines after their 38-31 overtime victory against Youngstown State University at the homecoming game Oct. 24, 2015, at Saluki Stadium. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

Saluki football players celebrate on the sidelines after their 38-31 overtime victory against Youngstown State University at the homecoming game Oct. 24, 2015, at Saluki Stadium. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

SIU football’s first scrimmage of the spring season will be a homecoming for its new head coach and a revival of memories for players.

Nick Hill, who was named SIU’s coach on December 23, is a native of Du Quoin and attended the town’s high school.

“It’ll be fun going back home, and I think a lot of people will show up” Hill said. “It’ll be cool for them that SIU is coming to practice at their stadium.”

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The Dawgs have put forth great effort this spring, Hill said, but the scrimmage will offer a true look at how the team is so far.

“We’ve done a good job practicing … but it’ll be fun to get out there because that’s where you can really evaluate people,” he said. “The lights will be on and they know we’ll be evaluating.”

As an Indian, Hill became the school’s third passer with 4,000 career yards after a senior season. He racked up 1,451 yards through the air his final year and led the Indians to a 12-2 season and an appearance in the Illinois 3A state championship game.

Hill, who will have his DuQuoin High School football and basketball jerseys retired in the fall, threw 69-for-132 as a senior with 19 touchdowns and one interception. He added 543 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground en route to an all-conference and all-state season.

“The stands [at the high school stadium] are the same, but we had a grass field, now they’ve got turf,” he said. “I’ve never coached on that turf before, they’ve got a beautiful facility.”

Hill said he wanted to have the scrimmage on turf so the Salukis didn’t tear anyone’s grass field up.

Hill’s coaching career began on Friday nights, as he led the 2013 Carbondale Community High School team that made an Illinois High School Association playoff appearance.

The Friday night lights in Du Quoin are also familiar to a pair of Salukis.

Redshirt freshmen tight end Hunter Cooper and defensive end Nick Wolf graduated from Nashville Community High School and played DuQuoin throughout their high school careers.

Cooper said he’s excited to go back to the field where the Indians beat his Hornets — who had a chance to win on the last play of the game.

“It’ll be nice, everybody misses [Friday night football] a little bit,” he said. “It’ll be different, but good to go back.”

Cooper said his family will be in attendance and he thinks his high school coach will bring team members down to the game.

Wolf said the game will be good not only for family to attend, but for Du Quoin.

“It’ll be good for the community to come out and watch us too,” he said.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

SIU has a critical open competition for the team’s most important position: quarterback. Sophomores Sam Straub and Matt DeSomer along with fifth-year transfer senior Josh Straughan and redshirt freshman Tanner Hearn have had equal time with the offense in practice.

Straub looks like the front-runner as he has the strongest arm and the most familiarity with Hill’s offensive scheme. DeSomer offers a great option as a rushing quarterback, but he too can sling the ball.

Watch for the quarterbacks to battle for the top spot during the scrimmage at 6 p.m. Friday at DuQuoin High School.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3333

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