Mike DiMatteo knows that it takes some time to build a program from the bottom up.
And he should know -- the former Lake Zurich and Hinsdale Central coach built highly successful programs at both schools. After he took over the Buffalo Grove program last season, and despite just one win in that initial campaign, DiMatteo feels the Bison are making huge strides.
"We are trying to bring that pride of football back to BG," DiMatteo said. "And I have seen it in our players in their workouts.
"Whenever you get a new head coach, there is always transitional pain. Got to get to know the coaching staff and got to get the system in place, and players have to understand the expectations. So the first year is always hard."
Last year certainly was, as the Bison managed just one victory.
But a new season brings a whole new attitude.
"We have talked a lot to our guys about the past history of this school and how successful it has been," DiMatteo said. "We want our guys to be proud of the name on the front of their jersey."
Andrew Apel, who rushed for 3 touchdowns in his final game last season, will bring those legs and arm in the shotgun to lead Buffalo Grove's offense. The Bison have a pair of bruisers in the backfield in Scott Smithern, who returns at running back, along with Mario Johnson, Jr.
Apel should have plenty of good, strong targets in John Maddox, Will Antonetti, Michael Schmitt and Mike Kleczynski.
The Bison offensive line of Nate Nascimento (5-foot-11, 260 pounds), Tommy Johns (6-0, 204), Aaron Schubert (5-10, 270), Anthony Barra (6-2, 260) and Michael Mills (6-1, 215) has good size and should be one of the strengths of the team this season.
"We have been working to get stronger," DiMatteo said. "And it really shows on our offensive line."
Smithern and Schmitt will play the linebacking positions in the Bison's 4-2-5 defense. The key to that working for Buffalo Grove will be 6-foot-5, 332-pound nose tackle Corey Gill.
"He is just a monster,"DiMattio said. "He is a load to move."
Also on the defensive line will be Shawn LeClair, Miguel Martinez and Adam Goyke. Mitchell Janco, a two-year starter, along with Kouji Yoshida, Ronan Conaty, Kleczynski and Madduz will patrol the Bison secondary.
'I think you will see a lot better things from us this year," Dimatteo said. "How it translates into records, I don't know. But we are light years ahead of last year, and that is a good thing."