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Daily Herald's 2014 Season Coverage
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Article updated: 8/11/2014 9:39 PM
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For real, Wauconda likes artificial turf future
 

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For real, Wauconda likes artificial turf future
  • Quarterback Kevin Malisheski, right, hands off to running back Tyler Theel during football practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Quarterback Kevin Malisheski, right, hands off to running back Tyler Theel during football practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Quarterback Kevin Malisheski receives a snap during practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Quarterback Kevin Malisheski receives a snap during practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Head coach Dave Mills talks to players during practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Head coach Dave Mills talks to players during practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Head coach Dave Mills talks to players during practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Head coach Dave Mills talks to players during practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Kevin Malisheski throws during football practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Kevin Malisheski throws during football practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com  Receiver Josh Anderson makes a catch during practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com Receiver Josh Anderson makes a catch during practice Monday at Wauconda.

  • Running back Tyler Theel makes a catch during practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Running back Tyler Theel makes a catch during practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Receiver Josh Anderson makes a catch during football practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Receiver Josh Anderson makes a catch during football practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Receiver Jake Grobenly makes a catch during football practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Receiver Jake Grobenly makes a catch during football practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Quarterback Kevin Malisheski rolls out during football practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Quarterback Kevin Malisheski rolls out during football practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Receiver Josh Anderson makes a catch during football practice Monday at Wauconda.

    Purchase Photo | Receiver Josh Anderson makes a catch during football practice Monday at Wauconda. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Ishmael Johnson takes a water break during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

    Purchase Photo | Ishmael Johnson takes a water break during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Players take a water break during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

    Purchase Photo | Players take a water break during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Players go through drills during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

    Purchase Photo | Players go through drills during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Players go through drills during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

    Purchase Photo | Players go through drills during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com  Pat Rigby, left, goes up for a pass with Jeremy Brown during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

    Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com Pat Rigby, left, goes up for a pass with Jeremy Brown during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

  • DJ Smith, right, and Matt Lawson go up for a pass during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

    Purchase Photo | DJ Smith, right, and Matt Lawson go up for a pass during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • DJ Smith, right, and Matt Lawson go up for a pass during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

    Purchase Photo | DJ Smith, right, and Matt Lawson go up for a pass during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Andy Hughes makes a catch during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich.

    Purchase Photo | Andy Hughes makes a catch during football practice Monday at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 

The new artificial turf in Wauconda's stadium wasn't quite ready for the first day of practice, but the Bulldogs sure were.

Along with every other high school football team in the state of Illinois, Wauconda eagerly ushered in the first official day of the 2014 season on Monday with an afternoon practice on a grass field just south of its new digs.

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The new field, accented in bright yellow and purple, should be ready for Wauconda's first home game of the season on Sept. 5 against Chicago Roosevelt.

The Bulldogs open the season the week before on Aug. 29 at Woodstock North.

"We're really excited," senior running back and safety Alex Payne said of the new field. "It's going to be really nice."

"This has been a long-awaited turf field," senior wide receiver Josh Anderson said.

Likewise, the Bulldogs have been anxiously awaiting the start of the season. They went 4-5 and missed the playoffs last season after starting 3-0. With their highest numbers in years (38 players on varsity last year compared to 54 this year), they have redemption on their minds.

"We have to go 3-0 again and keep that good start and keep it rolling the whole season," Anderson said. "I think after we were 3-0 last year, some people thought it was going to be easy and started taking it light."

Anderson says that this group of Bulldogs is grounded, but also confident in its weapons. The offense returns most of its skill players.

At the top of the list is Anderson and Payne, both of whom will be counted on heavily.

"My expectations are to go into the playoffs, hopefully at least into the second round because the last time we went to the playoffs, we lost in the first game," Payne said. "I think we can get past the first round this year."

To prepare for the season, the Bulldogs spent the usual number of summer camp days together that are allotted by the IHSA. They also participated in a team lock-in at the school.

"We had 92 players at our lock-in," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "We've got a lot of kids who want to play football.

"It's nice to be in ‘real' football season now. The kids have a lot of energy out there (at practice) and we have a lot of fun things going on this year with the field, and the kids think they're going to be pretty good, which is exciting. We think we're a playoff team."

Mills, entering his sixth season at Wauconda, is now one of the coaching deans of the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division.

There are two new football coaches in the seven-team division after the addition of two new coaches last year.

Former Grayslake Central coach Vito Andriola has taken the reins at Grant while Johnny Johnson is in his first year at North Chicago.

In the North Suburban Conference Lake Division, Warren coach Bryan McNultry enters his first season as does Bob Moynihan at Zion-Benton.

Grayslake Central also has a new coach in Jason Schaal.

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