Upon his wintertime hiring as St. Francis football coach it was refreshing to hear Bob McMillen say he was in it for the long haul.
Since championship-winning coach Greg Purnell stepped down after 2013 it's been a Wheaton whirlwind. After two seasons beloved Mike Fitzgerald went to Naperville North as offensive coordinator. For Joe Lepsche, 2016 was it.
Now it's McMillen, Immaculate Conception grad and Arena League legend with much success directing Patriots Youth Football in Naperville and Arena League 2011 coach of the year.
"No matter what level I'm coaching at I just try to go out there and give my boys my all," McMillen said.
Junior slot back Joe Lang and senior running back Sam Sidari did that well enough to earn all-Chicago Catholic League Green honors in 2016.
Lang ran the ball, returned kickoffs and intercepted 2 passes at defensive back, a team strength with Jack Sandack and top returning tackler Vince D'Orazio. In 2016 Sidari ran for a team-high 437 yards and 4 touchdown runs and was the Spartans' second-leading receiver.
Lang, Sidari and speedy tailback Henry Plamondon will do much of the heavy lifting in a spread offense where in the preseason senior Sidney Moore and sophomore Mike Baffa were battling for the quarterback spot.
McMillen is impressed by defensive end John Vohasek, smart and physical linebacker Nico Rendina and sound receivers such as Zach Burke.
As with many teams the offensive line is unsettled; chances are Nick Koenigsman will be the sole senior starter among a young group.
Overall McMillen sees an intelligent, athletic group. He believes Spartans fans will see that, too.
"They give you everything they can every time they step on the field," he said.
-- Dave Oberhelman
One to watch: In Week 3 St. Francis looks to erase the memory of Marmion's 21-0 win last season.
Coach: Bob McMillen (first year).
2016 record: 1-8, 0-4, fifth in the Chicago Catholic League Green.
Top players: Zach Burke (WR, 6-2, 201, sr.), Vince D'Orazio (DB, 5-10, 137, jr.), Nick Koenigsman (OL, 6-2, 291, sr.), Joe Lang (WR, 5-8, 130, jr.), Henry Plamondon (RB, 5-9, 174, jr.), Nico Rendina (LB, 6-2, 212, sr.), Sam Sidari (RB, 5-11, 170, sr.), Jack Sandack (DB, 5-9, 150, sr.), John Vohasek (DE, 6-1, 188, sr.).
Fri, 8/25, St. Francis at Argo, 7 p.m.
Fri, 9/1, Aurora Central Catholic at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/8, Marmion Academy at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/15, Loyola Academy at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/22, St. Francis at DeLaSalle, 7 p.m.
Fri, 9/29, St. Ignatius at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/6, St. Francis at Chicago Hope Academy, 7 p.m.
Fri, 10/13, St. Francis at Fenwick, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/20, Montini at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.