A change in head coaches brings excitement. That's the scene at St. Charles East, where former head sophomore coach Bryce Farquhar succeeds five-year varsity head man Mike Fields, who resigned in March.
Credit goes to St. Charles East athletic director Mike Sommerfeld and the school brain trust for rewarding a program man. The move seems to have sparked the Saints while retaining consistency.
Three-year starting lineman Brennan Bosch, who has offers from Butler and Illinois among other college interest, raved in an email about Farquhar's (pronounced "forker") ability to build confidence, chemistry, competitiveness and even serve as point man for college recruiting.
Farquhar simply prefers to identify immediate and long-term goals.
"As a team we're looking to just set a culture and expectation level," Farquhar said. "The playoffs are a goal every year, but we're looking to make it past that first game and beyond."
As far as the competition component goes, it's embraced the quarterback position. Farquhar -- the offensive coordinator with Brian Teresinski continuing as defensive coordinator -- named five quarterbacks initially competing for the position with the possibility that more than one will play.
"Our quarterback situation in the years to come is in very good shape," the coach said.
Whomever gets the call inherits a more settled situation in the ground game, where senior Ramon Lopez returns a team-high 439 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns. Cam Canales will take handoffs along with Lopez.
The line basically is entrenched with Bosch, Zach Reyes, Jack Sharkey, Eddie Harriett and Matt Doyle, who like receiver Jake Asquini returned to football after at least two years off.
"It helps when you're 6-2 and 300 pounds," Farquhar said of Doyle.
College prospect Morgan "Mo" Flanigan, who caught 24 passes for 403 yards and 3 touchdowns as a junior, is the veteran among an inexperienced receiver set. It's got athletes, though, Asquini and junior Jack Russell among them.
In 2013 the Saints, behind graduate Jimmy Mitchell, threw for 2,540 yards while the team ran for 965. The spread offense remains, but greater balance could result.
Defensively not many return from a unit that last season allowed an even 30 points a game. Defensive back Lopez and linebacker Parker Vidmich are back along with starting lineman Blake Fialka; Jake McCann and Nick Lombardo are seniors Farquhar likes up front.
Linebackers Russell, Blake Saltsman and Mitch Guillaume drew the coach's eye in preseason, while Farquhar compared the competition particularly at cornerback to the quarterback situation.
"We're kind of giving a bunch of kids a bunch of reps and seeing how it shakes out," he said.
Heading last year's Saints sophomores, Farquhar said the season didn't start great but the team rallied to tie with Batavia and St. Charles North for the UEC River title. Many of those players, and their coach, will impact the varsity.
"I've been real pleased with the progress we've made. We've still got a long way to go," Farquhar said. "It's a fun group to be around, great competitors. I think they're capable of doing great things."