A great season begs the question -- what to do for an encore?
Waubonsie Valley's 10 wins in 2012 were second-best in program history, its Class 8A quarterfinal berth the furthest advancement since 1994. The Warriors' two losses -- one in double overtime -- were by 4 total points to District 204 rival Neuqua Valley.
One thing's certain. Waubonsie Valley isn't looking back.
"Last year is over with," said coach Paul Murphy, who brings 149 career victories into the opener at Naperville Central. "This new season starts 0-0, this group of seniors has got to make a name for themselves, provide good leadership."
A wonderful place for that is the offensive line. Waubonsie returns all-Upstate Eight Valley lineman Jon Harris at left tackle along with honorable-mention picks Anthony Napolitano at center and Noah Szott at right guard. That'll comfort new starting quarterback Jack Eddy, a strong-armed passer.
Demario Webb, a third-year varsity running back who last year ran for 460 yards and 6 touchdowns, won't be asked to match Western Michigan freshman Austin Guido's program-record 2,377 yards rushing with 31 touchdowns. Yet this spread offense offers versatility with 4.4 sprinter Tony Durns and Jon Fizer adding carries while receivers Christian Gibbs, Keaton Casey and Devin Strickland stretch the field.
"This year's team is the fastest we've ever had at all five skill spots," Murphy said.
The coach hopes the offense paces the team until the defense finds its footing after graduating nine of 11 spots. Gibbs, who intercepted 3 passes and broke up 2 others in three games at cornerback, will join Kurtis Chione to give the Warriors some experience. But the main man there is middle linebacker Hugh Griffin. The three-year starter is a ballhawk who as a junior made 123 tackles, 11 for loss.
Others such as safety Brock Westwood and linebackers Ryan Strick and Adam Ziminski look to hit the ground running in the 4-3 defense.
"It's how quickly you can get them up to playing varsity speed," Murphy said. "I guess for us, it's do we have enough to reload rather than rebuild?"
Coach: Paul Murphy (ninth year, 55-27; 24th overall, 149-82).
2012 record: 10-2, 5-1, second in Upstate Eight Valley.
Top players: Kurtis Chione (DL, 6-2, 205, jr.), Jack Eddy (QB, 5-11, 160, sr.), Christian Gibbs (WR-DB, 6-0, 180, sr.), Hugh Griffin (LB-TE, 6-0, 200, sr.), Jon Harris (OL-DL, 6-4, 225, sr.), Anthony Napolitano (OL, 6-1, 220, sr.), Noah Szott (OL, 6-0, 255, sr.), Demario Webb (RB, 5-11, 215, sr.).
Fri, 8/30 Waubonsie Valley at Naperville Central7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/6 Oswego at Waubonsie Valley 7 p.m.
Fri, 9/13 Streamwood at Waubonsie Valley 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/20 Waubonsie Valley at West Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/27 Bartlett at Waubonsie Valley 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/5 Waubonsie Valley at South Elgin 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/11 Neuqua Valley at Waubonsie Valley 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/18 Waubonsie Valley at East Aurora 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/25 Waubonsie Valley at Metea Valley 7:30 p.m.