Warriors look to catch Valley foes

McHenry’s football players look forward to more productive work weeks and less busy Friday nights.

The Warriors, deeper in numbers and talent, have adopted the two-platoon philosophy and may have only a couple players play both sides. As many as six Warriors started on offense and defense last season, a number McHenry coach Dave D’Angelo says will drastically drop.

“At practice, you’re going to get more reps,” senior running back Payton Lykins said, “so you’ll know what you’re doing a lot better than last year. You’d have to split days [last year] and get reps at both. We’ll have a lot of guys who really know their job to the core of what they’re doing.”

D’Angelo feels platooning is vital to catching up the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division’s top teams. The Warriors were 3-6 overall, 1-5 in the Valley last season, tying for fifth with Dundee-Crown and Prairie Ridge.

McHenry has not been in the playoffs since 2007, which ended a remarkable 20-year run of postseason appearances.

D’Angelo, a McHenry graduate and long-time assistant in his second year as head coach, thinks more one-way players will pay big dividends.

“We can put 22 guys on the field that should be on the field,” D’Angelo said. “It helps us injury-wise. That was a big thing in the latter part of our season that we wanted to address. We went down and lost a couple games because of it. When you’re two-platooning you get a lot better at your position.”

The FVC Valley’s top teams – Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge – have mostly platooned players for the past few seasons with successful results.

McHenry may have center-defensive tackle Brad Mischke going both ways, with Lykins and defensive end Luis Hernandez also playing some on both sides. But D’Angelo hopes the double-duty players are limited.

“Last season in the fourth quarter, even in the second half, a lot of people were dead tired,” Hernandez said. “We were up a lot of times in the first half and in the second half we fizzled out.”

Middle linebacker Thomas Hellios, who played some running back last season, will not mind a lighter workload, both mentally and physically.

“It sort of helps you find an identity as a player if you’re just on one side of the ball,” Hellios said. “You get that defensive feel and get that intensity. And on offense, you get that execution down. It just helps you, as a player, focus more.”

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