New Wheaton Academy coach T.J. Ragan doesn't ask much from the Warriors. Only their best effort.
"We want every day to come in and do our best at everything we're doing," said Ragan, a veteran coach and conditioning expert most recently at Valor Christian High School in Colorado. He succeeds Ben Wilson, who resigned after October brain surgery but returns as offensive coordinator.
The Warriors' efforts will almost certainly be rewarded more than last season, outscored 355-95 playing in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division. Now in the Gold, they could vie with Immaculate Conception and Aurora Central Catholic for the title.
That depends on how the boys execute the veer option offense and base 4-4 defense Ragan has installed due to personnel and his own philosophy.
Wheaton Academy earned just 475 yards and 4 touchdowns rushing last year while foes ran for 2,280 yards, 31 TDs. Returning back John Mark Wiersema contributed 203 of those yards, while all-conference junior John Gemmel -- who recorded a team-high 5.5 sacks -- should vastly improve on his 1 carry last season.
Along with the defense of Gemmel and three-year starter Peter Ferrill, whose 64 tackles ranked second on last year's squad, returning end Matt Lindsay was a highlight. The 6-foot-2 receiver caught 35 passes for 716 yards and 6 touchdowns, averaging 20.5 yards a catch.
Expect Lindsay to capitalize on flares thrown by quarterback Nate Martinez, who Ragan called "a totally different player" from the one who completed 43.5 percent of his passes sharing the spot with the graduated Drew Decker.
The option's success will obviously depend on a junior-based line that includes Theo Selvaggio, Daniel Sedjo, David Westfallen, seniors Josh Adams and Tommy Miller, and returning starter Taylor Johnson.
It goes without saying they'll give it their all.
"We expect a successful season," Ragan said. "How that turns out in wins and losses, we're not concerned about that right now. Our kids are excited to come out and give our best every play."
-- Dave Oberhelman
Coach: T.J. Ragan (first year).
2011 record: 1-8, 0-5, sixth in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division.
Top players: Peter Ferrill (OL/LB, 6-1, 210, Sr.), John Gemmel (RB/LB, 5-7, 175, Jr.), Matt Lindsay (WR/DB, 6-4, 205, Sr.), Nate Martinez (QB, 6-1, 185, Sr.), John Mark Wiersema (RB/LB, 5-10, 175, Sr.).
Fri, 8/24, Westminster (Mo.) at Wheaton Academy, 7 p.m.
Sat, 9/1, Wheaton Academy at Immaculate Conception, 1 p.m.
Fri, 9/7, Wheaton Academy at Montini, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/14, Aurora Christian at Wheaton Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/22, Wheaton Academy at Walther Lutheran, 1 p.m.
Sat, 9/29 Wheaton Academy at Guerin Prep, 1 p.m.
Sat, 10/6, St. Edward at Wheaton Academy, 2 p.m.
Fri, 10/12, Chicago Christian at Wheaton Academy, 7 p.m.
Fri, 10/19, Wheaton Academy at Marian Central, 7:30 p.m.