WOODSTOCK – While the cool, breezy weather made it feel more like late fall than August, the Marian Central football team embraced its first opportunity to get on the field.
Emphasizing fundamentals, footwork and the mental aspect of the game on the first day of practice, Marian coach Ed Brucker and the Hurricanes are trying to take advantage of their available practice time.
"This year [the season] almost seems closer with the new format where you can only go three hours," Brucker said. "We kind of take our time, let them learn but you can't really do that now."
The Hurricanes held a pair of hour and a half practices Wednesday and the speed of the game has already been eye-opening for players making the jump to varsity. Marian returns five players on both sides of the ball, though plenty of talent and experience will need to be replaced. None may be more difficult to replace than former two-year starting quarterback Chris Streveler, now at Minnesota.
But junior Billy Bahl is ready for the challenge of being the guy chosen to follow Streveler. Brucker doesn't expect Bahl to run as much as Streveler did, adding he will be a good quaterback "in his own right." The Hurricanes are scheduled to open the season at Crystal Lake South on Aug. 30.
“I’m just trying to make a name for myself,” Bahl said. “I’m not really trying to be the next Chris Streveler or anything. But he helped a lot when he was here, and he was a great mentor to me.
“Being the guy right after him, I’m going to be compared to him in some ways, but no matter what I just have to show what I can do.”
Senior wide receiver Tom Klinger is one player who expects to aid in the transition. Klinger and other receivers, including senior Brett Olson, who was third in the area last year with 481 receiving yards as well as six touchdowns, hung around after practice ended to work with Bahl.
“He’s doing a good job of trusting his guys all over the field,” Klinger said. “We believe in him 100 percent, and there’s really no difference in our offense. Everything’s going to come together at some point.”
Brucker will be leaning on the seniors to bridge the transition. However, the Hurricanes may be without one of their key leaders, senior outside linebacker Chris Daniels. Brucker said Daniels, who was one of the area’s top defenders last year, might miss the first game or two of the season because of a right knee sprain. Daniels wore a knee brace and did not participate in either of Wednesday’s practices.
“It’s not the position I want to be in, of course I want to be out there with the guys. But it’s giving me a chance to learn my position more,” Daniels said.