Quarterback Gable Leppert runs the offense during practice at Mundelein High School this week.
Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer
Those days of power football, chewing up yards and oftentimes chunks of grass in the process, are dwindling at Mundelein.
The Mustangs begin their final home season on real grass tonight when they host Wheeling. The process of installing synthetic turf in the stadium is scheduled to start following the season.
What's new for 2011 is an offense that, if it can be run successfully, will allow the Mustangs to run the football and eat up the game clock not the grass while keeping opposing defenses on their heels.
The Mustangs are coming off a 1-8 season and are just 4-23 in Bob Stone's first three seasons as coach. A tweaked offense might allow the Mustangs to be more competitive.
They scored a North Suburban Lake-low 84 points last season.
"We've added a lot more option to our game," said Stone, the former Joliet Catholic coach who guided the Hilltoppers to a state championship in 1990.
The reason the Mustangs will run the option is Stone's selection to run it.
Senior Gable Leppert will start at quarterback after sharing snaps last season with the graduated Ryan VanderPloeg.
"Gable is a runner," Stone said. "He really likes to run with the football."
Leppert will have lots of options when he chooses to hand off. The Mustangs' stable of fullbacks includes seniors Matt Heppert and Tyler Danek and junior Dominic Paliani.
"We're going to run the fullback a lot," Stone said.
Senior wingback L.D. Frison and 5-foor-4 Phil Quach give Leppert other options. Besides Leppert, the other returning starters on offense are senior center Jack Craven, senior right tackle Anthony Adams and senior wide receiver Dave Tramill.
"What I've told people, even when we met with our youth coaches, is that we're going to run an offense where we have to block as few as people as possible," Stone said. "Option, trapping, jet guys in motion. ... We ran a little more of a power game the last few years. We just started fooling around with option a little bit last year. We ran only one. We're going to run 2-3 different ones this year."
The defense returns inside linebacker Heppert, senior end Spencer Henley and senior cornerback Alex Lamboy. Heppert leads a strong linebacking corps that also includes Paliani and seniors Andy Chernyavskiy, Kevin O'Connor and Nate Avis. Junior Josh Aranda could make an impact at strong safety.
"Defensively, we'll be a pretty big blitzing team," Stone said. "I think the strength is probably our linebackers."
Stone saw some good and not-so-good things in the team's scrimmage last Friday night.
"I told them, 'Some kids really earned playing time tonight, and some kids maybe played themselves out of playing time,' " Stone said. "Sometimes what goes on in regular practices is a lot different when you get in game situations."
One player who impressed the coach and could throughout the season is the bruising Heppert.
He provided grass stains (to ballcarriers) for the last time in a preseason scrimmage.
"He was cracking people on defense," Stone said. "He had some really big hits out there."
Pos. Name Ht/Wt Yr.
WR Connor O'Donoghue 5-11/160 Sr.
LT Spencer Henley 5-8/205 Sr.
LG Cord Schellenberger 5-9/185 Sr.
C Jack Craven 6-2/170 Sr.
RG Ryan Rubio 5-10/165 Jr.
RT Anthony Adams 6-2/285 Sr.
QB Gable Leppert 6-0/160 Sr.
FB Matt Heppert 6-0/197 Sr.
RB L.D. Frison 5-8/150 Sr.
WR Brandon Walsh 5-9/166 Sr.
WR Dave Tramill 5-10/190 Sr.
Pos. Name Ht/Wt Yr.
DE Spencer Henley 5-8/205 Sr.
NT Nick DeVito 5-8/220 Jr.
DE Cole Hinchman 6-4/195 Sr.
OLB Kevin O'Connor 6-2/200 Sr.
ILB Matt Heppert 6-0/197 Sr.
ILB Dominic Paliani 5-11/160 Jr.
ILB Andy Chernyavskiy 5-10/160 Sr.
OLB Nate Avis 5-8/150 Sr.
CB Alex Lamboy 5-11/168 Sr.
SS Josh Aranda 5-8/170 Jr.
CB Evan Dinelli 5-9/165 Sr.