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Waubonsie Valley Warriors
By David Oberhelman | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/26/201 12:51 AM

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It takes Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy about one second to state the Warriors' 2011 theme.

"It really is unfinished business. We got tackled on the 1-yard line by Homewood-Flossmoor (in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs) and we were tied by Bartlett for the conference championship," he said.

"We want to be the undisputed conference champion. We want to get to that quarterfinal round and see where we go from there. Because of the talent in the junior class we have a chance to be a really good football team and improve every week throughout the season."

The energetic Murphy certainly isn't dismissing his seniors. They comprise nearly all his returning starters and include Division I recruit Demetrius "Dee" Gray at receiver and cornerback Malik Spikener, who Murphy calls a Division I talent in a 5-foot-6 body.

Returning starting offensive linemen Chris Weaver and Adam Szott are seniors, as are defensive tackle Zac Steele and linebacker Tommy Wooten, who caused 5 fumbles last season. Defensive backs Jim Delaney and Connor Mersch? Seniors.

Waubonsie's leading rusher and tackler, however, are juniors. Against Brother Rice in the playoffs Austin Guido exploded for 202 of his team-high 567 yards rushing. Middle linebacker Austin Lacke led the Warriors with 90 tackles.

It's not just that. Of this speedy 68-man squad, only 22 are seniors. So, Murphy will rely on newcomers like tight end Troy Fumagalli, receiver Dan Waldron and defensive lineman Riley Kittridge to join seniors such as back Matt Salvo and receiver Brandon Malby.

There's one senior-junior duo of particular interest, quarterbacks junior Dylan Warden and senior Mitch Stefani. As usual each offers different qualities, so this competition will go at least into Week 1.

Reliance on juniors begs the following questions Murphy hopes bring positive answers: "Can our juniors provide us with depth and the ones playing, can they play at varsity speed at the beginning of the year?"

Dave Oberhelman

The breakdown

Coach: Paul Murphy (seventh year, 37-23; 22nd overall, 125-84).

2010 record: 8-3, 5-1, tied for first in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division.

Top players: Demetrius Gray (WR, 6-4, 175, sr.), Austin Guido (RB, 5-11, 187, jr.), Riley Kittridge (DL, 6-0, 231, jr.), Austin Lacke (LB, 6-0, 207, jr.), Tyler Melleker (K-P, 5-9, 185, sr.), Malik Spikener (DB, 5-6, 150, sr.), Zac Steele (DL, 5-11, 230, sr.), Adam Szott (OL, 6-3, 264, sr.), Chris Weaver (OL, 6-1, 241, sr.), Tommy Wooten (LB, 5-11, 192, sr.).

Schedule

Fri, Aug 26 @ Naperville C. 7:30 p.m.

Fri, Sep 2 Oswego 7 p.m.

Fri, Sep 9 @ Bartlett 7:30 p.m.

Fri, Sep 16 Lake Park 7:30 p.m.

Fri, Sep 23 @ Metea Valley 7:30 p.m.

Fri, Sep 30 @ Larkin 7:30 p.m.

Fri, Oct 7 Neuqua Valley 7:30 p.m.

Fri, Oct 14 @ Waubonsie V. 7:30 p.m.

Fri, Oct 21 South Elgin 7:30 p.m.