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updated: 8/22/2014 10:02 PM

Schaal era begins at Grayslake Central

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For the seniors at Grayslake Central who don't happen to keep track, Jason Schaal is the third varsity head football coach in their four years at the school.

Schaal, also the head softball coach at Grayslake Central, is ready to bring some stability to the program, which is looking to improve on last year's 4-5 record under Ben Ault.

"I was named football coach in the middle of softball season (last spring), so we got a little bit of a late start," Schaal said. "But (the transition) has gone pretty smooth and our kids have been working really hard. I know it's not easy for our kids with all the (coaching) changes, especially the seniors. But I've been really happy with their effort and their attitude. Everything has been really positive."

Schaal coached the offensive and defensive linemen at Grayslake Central last year and is excited to welcome back three linemen who were starters last year: Andrew Barrett, Spencer Hirt and Eamon Peterson.

"Those guys are really going to help with our run game," Schaal said.

But it is the passing game, under new quarterback Luke Shepherd, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior, that could really turn heads. Schaal says that Shepherd has made huge strides over the summer and is looking impressive.

"You aren't going to see many quarterbacks his size, and he's got a lot of arm strength, too," Schaal said of Shepherd. "He still has a lot to learn, but he's been doing pretty well so far."

Shepherd will look to connect with wide receivers Kevin Dunk and Noah Comerford as well as DeJuan Ali and Cameron Schwartz, speedy running backs who might just be as good at catching as they are at running.

"We're going to take our running backs and put them in multiple spots on the field," Schaal said. "We want them catching passes, too. They were both on our relay teams in track last spring and their speed will help. We feel like we've got the speed to open it up a bit.

"That's what you see in the college game and in the NFL now with guys like Russell Wilson and RG3. I love the veer. I love three or four wideout offense, and the kids are really liking it, too. You have to have a certain group of players to run it and I think we have that."

Running backs Jaron Armiger and Richard Novrouzov as well as tight end Brian Ditton will also be worked into the rotation on offense.

Meanwhile, on defense, the Rams have some holes to fill, especially on the line.

"That's our biggest area for improvement," Schaal said. "We graduated three starters on the defensive line who had good size and strength. Hirt and Peterson will be our leaders there this year."

Barrett, another offensive lineman who will go both ways, will also start at linebacker and will be joined by veterans Anthony Fitzgerald, Schwartz, Ditton and Novrouzov.

"We know we have some challenges ahead of us, but we are on the right track," Schaal said. "I want every opponent we play to say that we played hard and we played a great game. Getting at least four or five wins would be a good step for us."

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