Waubonsie Valley's lineup is chock full of impact seniors who remember last year's quick exit as a No. 1 playoff seed.
Should an inexperienced offensive line jell, skilled athletes and a tough defensive front may put the team in position for what's hoped to be a longer run.
"Our approach is one game at a time, get the best record we can get," said coach Paul Murphy, not putting the cart before the horse.
Pivotal to the cause is senior tailback Austin Guido, in his third year on varsity. Last season he gained 1,182 yards and scored 17 touchdowns; he's gained steady Mid-American Conference interest.
Guido will be incorporated more into the Warriors' passing game as will prototype tight end Troy Fumagalli. He caught 12 passes for 203 yards, plus 2 touchdown grabs in the 2011 opener against Naperville Central but none after. Fumagalli has 12 scholarship offers mainly from MAC colleges, Murphy said, plus Big Ten interest.
Quarterback Dylan Warden again heads the spread option offense. The dual-threat senior ran for 382 yards and 11 touchdowns last year and completed 42 of 87 passes for 742 yards, 9 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. Owning a big arm, he's improved his accuracy, leadership and offensive understanding.
"Hopefully, he'll take what the defense gives him," Murphy said, "and they won't like the choice that he's made."
Warden will operate behind an all-new offensive line, including seniors Joe Rodriguez, Jackson Hynes and Nile Ben-Salem. Should they provide any sort of pass protection and open holes for Guido and DeMario Webb, the offense should roll -- and be put in fine position by a stout defense.
All-Area linebacker Austin Lacke's 124 tackles were the most in Murphy's tenure. The 2011 team MVP should have a clear path to the ball behind big linemen Trevor Hardin, Riley Kittridge, Downers Grove South transfer Joey Christofiles and 310-pound Tyrone Hatchett. As a sophomore, linebacker Hugh Griffin made 81 tackles and contributed to 5 turnovers.
"We're big and strong up front," Murphy said.
-- Dave Oberhelman
Coach: Paul Murphy (eighth year, 45-25; 23rd overall, 133-86).
2009 record: 8-2, 5-1, second in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division.
Top players: Troy Fumagalli (TE-DL, 6-6, 225, Sr.), Hugh Griffin (LB, 5-11, 205, Jr.), Austin Guido (RB, 5-10, 190, Sr.), Trevor Hardin (DL, 6-1, 260, Sr.), Riley Kittridge (DL, 6-0-255, Sr.), Austin Lacke (LB, 6-0, 210, Sr.), Dylan Warden (QB, 6-1, 185, Sr.), Andrew White (DB, 5-10, 170, Sr.).
Fri, 8/24, Naperville Central at Waubonsie Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 8/31, Waubonsie Valley at Oswego, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/7, Streamwood at Waubonsie Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/14, Waubonsie Valley at Lake Park, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/21, Waubonsie Valley at Barlett, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/28, South Elgin at Waubonsie Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/5, Waubonsie Valley at Neuqua Valley (North Central), 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/12, East Aurora at Waubonsie Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/19, Waubonsie Valley at Metea Valley, 7:30 p.m.