Momentum and experience are keys to what Lake Park coach Chris Roll plans will be a successful season.
Winning their last four games for a 5-4 record, the Lancers nonetheless missed the 2011 playoffs, a victim of too few playoff points. A glut of offensive returners aims to make that a nonissue.
"It's a very driven, motivated team right now," Roll said.
The Lancers' second-year coach has tutored quarterback Zach Gehant since he was in seventh grade. The three-year starter comes off an all-Upstate Eight Valley season in which he completed 78 of 152 passes for 1,349 yards, 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
"Just the knowledge difference of a third-year starter is very comforting," Roll said. "He's ready to go."
The senior has some good targets. Lake Park returns all-conference receiver Scott Filip -- a national age-group decathlon champion this summer -- and veteran senior Kevin Teglia, who had 369 yards receiving after missing the first five games due to injury. Senior wideout Timmy Strauss transferred in after starting last year at Plainfield South.
Senior Ronnie Castaldo earned all-conference honors for his team-leading 76 tackles at linebacker, but he's got two years varsity experience running the ball. Junior Curtwan Evans, younger brother of Lake Park's 2011 rushing leader, LaCurt, will take handoffs behind a line featuring returning starters Vince Fallico at center, guard Ian Smith and tackle Zach Smith, no relation.
The base 4-3 defense is less experienced but still offers its first-, fourth-, fifth- and seventh-leading tacklers in Castaldo, linebacker Bogdan Gulyk and linemen Craig Ryan and Luis Bullington. Roll thinks enough of junior Nico Daniello to put him at middle linebacker.
A "great summer," Roll said, may translate to continued momentum.
"I think we can put pressure on some teams by putting some points on the board to allow our defense to put pressure on the other team, maybe not put so much pressure on some of the young defensive players," Roll said.
-- Dave Oberhelman
Coach: Chris Roll (second year, 5-4).
2011 record: 5-4, 3-3, tied for third in the Upstate Eight Valley Conference Valley Division.
Top players: Ian Smith (OL, 6-2, 205, Sr.), Ronnie Castaldo (RB-LB, 6-0, 210, Sr.), Vince Fallico (OL, 6-2, 275, Sr.), Scott Filip (WR, 6-1, 165, Sr.), Zach Gehant (QB, 6-2, 185, Sr.), Bogdan Gulyk (LB, 5-8, 170, Sr.), Craig Ryan (DL, 6-1, 190, Sr.), Kevin Teglia (WR, 5-10, 170, Sr.).
Fri, 8/24, Conant at Lake Park, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 8/31, Lake Park at Glenbard East, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/7, Metea Valley at Lake Park, 7:30 p.m.*
Fri, 9/14, Lake Park at Waubonsie Valley, 7:30 p.m.*
Fri, 9/21, Batavia at Lake Park, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/29, Lake Park at Bartlett, 1:30 p.m.*
Sat, 10/6, Lake Park at South Elgin, 1:30 p.m.*
Fri, 10/12, Neuqua Valley at Lake Park, 7:30 p.m.*
Fri, 10/19, Lake Park at East Aurora, 7:30 p.m.*