Shaun Magill was West Carroll's version of "Slash" the last few years. He was the backup quarterback/running back/wide receiver/free safety.
This year, the senior takes over as the starting quarterback. Playing multiple offensive positions in the past should serve him well.
"It gave me a lot more of an eye for what they do," Magill said. "I know more positions, which helps me get better reads."
"He played wherever I needed him and never complained," third-year head coach Michael Bicksler said. "As a quarterback now, that was good for him, because he knows what the running backs and receivers are supposed to be doing."
Magill was the fresh-soph starting quarterback his freshman season and split time as the fresh-soph starter as a sophomore. He was the varsity backup the past few seasons.
"It's different now, when you're the starting quarterback," Bicksler said. "It will be a little bit of an eye-opener for himi. I think he'll be able to handle it."
He'll be back at his free safety position, where he picked off seven or eight passes a year ago, according to Bicksler.
Magill feels that playing quarterback and free safety go hand in hand.
"It allows you to read the ball from both sides, which helps you understand more about both positions," he said of playing safety. "You know what the quarterback will tend to do."
The Thunder haven't been to the playoffs since 2007. West Carroll will have to survive a grueling early schedule. It's first four games are against playoff teams from a year ago.
"Our first five games are murder," Bicksler said. "We haven't been a team to win the game we shouldn't. If we can win one of those games, it might change everything around."
The brutal NUIC Northwest will either toughen or bury the Thunder.
"I feel like we're a contender," said Magill, one of 10 returning starters. "There's going to be some real tough games, but if we can win those we should do well this season. We should be able to make the playoffs. It should come together pretty well."
"If we want to be in the playoffs, we're going to have to beat an EPC or a Forreston or a Lena," Bicksler said. "If you can't do that, you're not going to do well in the playoffs anyway. It's a good measuring stick."
More lightning needed
• The Thunder were held to 18 points or less in six of their nine games last season and seven or less in four of those. West Carroll hasn't been to the playoffs since 2007, when the program got its lone postseason win.