Naperville Central spent a little more than seven hours in meetings, on the field and watching film during Wednesday’s first practice of the season.
The Redhawks might as well get comfortable at home because that’s where they’ll be for the next month as they’ll host the opening four games on their schedule this fall. Such home cooking should let them know if they have a recipe for the playoffs as they won’t load up the buses until Sept. 20 when they head to Lombard to take on Glenbard East.
“We’re looking forward to those home games and hoping they give us a lot of momentum,” said senior offensive lineman, Brendon Daley. “It was nice to get started, and it was really nice out today. We’re just trying to get ready for our first game.”
Senior quarterback Jake Kolbe (1,623 passing yards and 12 TDs in 2012) has already committed to Illinois State, but his focus for now is on leading the Redhawks. Primary target Ben Andreas (36 catches, 614 yards, 7 TDs in 2012) also returns with Daley, Jake Angona, Alex Peterson and Ryan Minick providing a lot of size and talent on the O-line.
“It was awesome to just back out there with the guys today,” Kolbe said. “We’ve been preparing all summer with camps and trying to get ready for Waubonsie Valley (Aug. 30) and we’ve got 16 or so days before Waubonsie.”
Last season, Naperville Central dropped its non-conference games to Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley before winning three straight in the DuPage Valley Conference. Still, the Redhawks ultimately dropped a heartbreaking 26-23 decision to Naperville North in Week 8 and were eliminated from the playoffs.
Falling short of the playoffs should have the Redhawks hungry, especially their seniors. They dedicated themselves in the off-season to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“Since our season ended so early we’ve been working hard ever since with lifting before school and getting all the receivers together throwing in the field house.” Kolbe said. “We just worked really hard together and hope it pays off.”
Taking advantage of the home field advantage the first few weeks won’t come easily, especially with non-conference foes Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley, a combined 22-3 in 2012, the first two weeks.
“We had a lot of motivation in the off-season to improve and we’re definitely hoping to win conference,” Daley said.
“We can’t make any guarantees but we’re excited for the season and think we’ll be a contender.”