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Communication has Illinois State Winning

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Communication has Illinois State Winning

ISU gets ready to play. Emma Horath photo.

While Wisconsin-Whitewater may still be the favorites in WIIL Conference, there’s a nice battle brewing to see who will face the Warhawks in the final.

Northern Michigan is certainly solid in the  North Division with UW-W, but in the South, it’s going to come down to Northern Iowa against Illinois State.

Long considered a team that has size and athleticism, but perhaps doesn’t play the most sophisticate brand of rugby, ISU is looking to change things a little but more.

“We’ve changed the way we play defense,” said center and club president Will Blair. “It’s more of a zone defense. Illinois-Wesleyan barely made it out of their half. We were communicating well. It starts with preparation and practice, and we’re just more structured, and with the right preparation everyone is ready to go right away.”

Offensively, ISU remains big, but they’re a bit more athletic.

“If you’ve got size and athleticism, but you’re not all on the same page, it’s a problem,” said Blair. “We might be bigger now this year than we were last year, and we’ve got some quick guys, but if you’re not communicating, it won’t matter.”

Blair said captains West Jackson and Conor O’Dea keep the players focused at practice and lead well during the games. Meanwhile, Ryley Georgitsis has been a revelation on the wing, powering through and around defenses and scoring seven tries so far.

So ISU is feeling confident, and they are looking at that October 22 clash with UNI. They remember losing a close one last season to Northern Iowa.

“We are looking for revenge,” said Blair.