Shawn Sundquist returns for a Wauconda team ready for the rigors of football in the North Suburban Prairie.
Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer
Injuries were not kind to Wauconda last season.
So the Bulldogs have done everything possible in the months since then to make sure that they can better weather all the bumps, bruises, sprains and strains that are a part of every football season.
"We've really tried to concentrate on being in better shape," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "We've worked hard in the weight room on getting stronger and we've really made it a focus to play with 11 guys on each side. That way, if one kid goes down, we're not getting hurt on both sides of the ball if he plays both offense and defense."
Sometimes hobbled and short-handed, the Bulldogs limped to a 3-6 record last season. They're optimistic that they'll not only be healthier this season, they'll be more successful as well.
"We're as big and as fast as we've ever been and it's fun when you have big kids who can move and do things," Mills said. "This group expects to be in the playoffs this year and competing for a Prairie Division championship.
"We feel good about what we're doing and our kids are used to winning. They had a lot of success on the underlevels."
One player who didn't share in that success was senior quarterback Brandon Rowe. But that's because he went to a different school earlier in his career.
Rowe has transferred to Wauconda from Marian Central Catholic in Woodstock.
"Brandon is a really good thrower," Mills said. "And he's got a nice choice of receivers to throw to. We go four to five deep there and we could put two or three of them in at the same time."
Senior Jake Ziolowkowski will be the headliner for the receivers. He started for the Bulldogs last year and is one of four offensive starters returning. The others are big linemen Christian Huff (275 pounds), Will Danner (240 pounds) and Mike Augustine (275 pounds).
"We have a lot of size so we'll try to take advantage of that and run the ball as much as we can," said Mills, citing newcomers Bruce Pearl and Pete Merker as a couple of his best rushers. "But we really want to be balanced. We feel like we can do anything at any time."
Defensively, the Bulldogs return senior linebackers Jake Sherman and Erik Eschein as well as end Shawn Sundquist and cornerback Geoff Ganzman and safety Eric Dragon.
"Our defense is a little lighter but much faster than last year," Mills said. "Our guys are hard to block. We're counting on filling those gaps and using our speed to run down people."
Pos. Name Ht/Wt Yr.
QBBranden Rowe 6-4/200 Sr.
RBPete Merker 6-0/180 Sr.
RB Bruce Pearl 5-4/155 Jr.
WR Jake Ziolkowski 6-1/190 Sr.
WR Austin Piekarski 5-11/160 Jr.
TE Blake Wisniewski 6-2/210 Jr.
OL Christian Huff 6-4/280 Sr.
OL Will Danner 5-10/240 Jr.
OL David Lowe 6-0/290 Jr.
OL Mike Augustine 5-10/260 Sr.
OL Jack Weber 6-3/285 Jr.
DL John Kaimakis 6-3/230 Sr.
DL Nate Magiera 6-3/205 Soph.
DL Shawn Sundquist 6-4/240 Sr.
LB Erik Fuller 6-3/220 Jr.
LB Keith Blomberg 5-9/165 Jr.
LB Erik Eischen 6-2/185 Sr.
LB Jack Botheroyd 5-9/180 Sr.
LB Jake Sherman 6-2/210 Sr.
DB Eric Dragon 6-0/145 Sr.
DBGeoffery Ganzman 6-1/165 Sr.
DB Chris Bednarski 6-1/180 Jr.