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If someone could invent a vaccine that could keep the injury bug away, the Grant football team would probably insist on getting an extra strong dosage for this season.
Being healthy is at the top of the priority list for 2013.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 2012 campaign that was checkered with one serious injury after another. And to make matters worse, the injuries happened to some of the team's most important players.
The starting quarterback went down. And so too did the backup, which gave the third-string quarterback a couple of unexpected starts.
Grant's top running back and both of its starting cornerbacks also both missed time with injuries.
And yet, somehow, all was not lost in Fox Lake. The Bulldogs still made the playoffs, for the third year in a row and the seventh time in eight years.
"To win eight games last year, to get to the playoffs with what happened to us was incredible," said Grant coach Kurt Rous, whose team finished with an 8-3 record last season. "We lost all those guys, but we had other guys step in. Even when things went bad, we were still able to battle through it.
"I think we proved a lot to ourselves."
The resilient Bulldogs have a new challenge ahead this year: overcoming a lack of experience on offense.
Dynamic running back Jonathan Wells, who spent some time on the sidelines last season with a shoulder injury, would have been one of the top returning rushers in the area. But he elected not to go out for football this season so that he could concentrate on track instead.
That means the Bulldogs return only three starters, one of whom is junior Jeremy Bredwood, a Week 9 call-up from the sophomore team who was needed to fill in last season because of all the injuries.
Bredwood, a state relay qualifier in track last spring, wound up playing well and even had an impact in the playoffs.
"Jeremy has great speed. He's explosive and he reads blocks really well," Rous said. "He'll be our outside threat."
Meanwhile, veteran Billy Sullivan will be the Bulldogs' meat-and-potatoes runner in their triple option offense. Also a 3-year starter at linebacker, Sullivan will pick up the tough yards between the tackles.
The third part of the option is quarterback Jake Bychowski, who is healthy after an injury-plagued 2012. He started on defense last year but was hampered by an elbow injury. He was also the back-up quarterback to Kyle Whitman. When Whitman went down for the season with a knee injury, Bychowski stepped in, only to eventually be knocked out himself with a concussion.
"Jake is progressing nicely and he's got a lot of great tools," Rous said of his quarterback. "He runs well. He's gotten better with his passing and he's a real smart kid, on the football field and in the classroom.
"He's been hurt a lot in the past, though, and we just want him to finish a full season of football healthy."
Just in case, the Bulldogs do have a solid backup quarterback in Simeon Tate, a transfer from Carmel.
The other two returning starters on offense are guard Andrew Parker and wide receiver Joe Sadauskas, one of Grant's two-way players.
Sadauskas is also a safety for the Bulldogs, who are strong up the middle with the return of veteran linebackers Jake Lostroscio, Tim Hollins and Sullivan. Francisco Uribe, Collin Stefanowski and Patrick Purvin are back on the line.
"I like that we've got a lot of experience on the line and at linebacker," Rous said. "Our defense should be a strength."