Seven hours of practice in one day didn't hurt as much as it probably could have.
Thanks to an intense summer with their new head coach, George Kaider, Mundelein's football players were ready for their first two-a-day, a session from 8 a.m. to noon and then another from 1 to 4 p.m.
Wednesday marked the first official day of football practice, not only for the Mustangs but for all high school teams across the state.
"I thought (practice) went really well today, pretty smooth," senior tailback and running back Josh Aranda said. "We've been conditioning pretty hard during our camp this summer. Guys were doing OK because we already have our stamina up."
The outlook is looking up at Mundelein, too.
Kaider is convincing the Mustangs that they are starting a new tradition. He is the program's fourth head coach in the last 13 years and is out to keep the struggles of the past in the past.
Mundelein is coming off an 0-9 season and has not been to the playoffs since 2004.
"It was tough sometimes (last year)," said Dillon O'Donoghue, a junior who started at safety last season and also played some wide receiver. "But with a new coaching staff, the guys are really thinking that something good will happen. I think something good will happen.
"We've been working so hard, and we've been together for a while. During the summer, we'd get here at 6:15 in the morning and lift and then do our camp for the rest of the morning. We'd work for five hours and the coaches would really push us to our limits.
"It seems like we're getting pushed harder than last year. We've been working as hard as we can."
The Mustangs' surroundings probably make the hard work and long hours more palatable. They have a new weight room at school, and the football field was totally revamped during the off-season and is now outfitted with the popular artificial field turf that many schools in the area have installed.
"The new field is really nice and a lot better than it used to be," said senior linebacker Ryan Rubio, who will also play wide receiver and kick for the Mustangs. "Last year it was all muddy and that was tough (to play on).
"We're all excited and there was a lot of energy today at practice. This is the most exciting time of the year."
Kaider is convinced that the excitement is just beginning.
"If we keep doing things the right way, we can win," Kaider said. "The optimism isn't because of a new field or a new weight room or a new coaching staff, it's because these kids have worked very hard, even back to February, and they've done everything together. And when you have more caring, people start to have more optimism."
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