8/24 7:30 H
Starting Over (8/19/2005)
Libertyville - The best thing about playing 14 games in a season, besides the fact that it means you've made it to the state finals, is the added bonus of extra playing time for non-staters.
The 2004 7A State Champions Libertyville and their head coach Randy Kuceyeski, at least are hoping that's the case, after losing all but two starters to graduation.
Those two lone players are, Michael Culberson-Fehling, 6'5 230, who's one of the top defensive ends in the state and Kevin Koza a 5'10 220 lbs linebacker. Both started every game in 2004.
While he'll admits that due to injuries and a few comfortable leads the players stepping in this year have seen some action in 2004. "These kids aren't brand new. They've been tested."
Kuceyeski, could almost start a believable 'woe is me' campaign though, if it weren't for at least one transfer that would make any head coach drool. Senior Cameron Turner (5'10 170lbs), son of former Illini head coach & current Bears offensive coach Ron Turner, will be stepping in at quarterback. He's already established himself as a bona-fide team leader said Kuceyeski. And referring to his assets said "Very quick, very smart. He's probably one of the smartest kids we've ever coached at that position."
Turner will have plenty to work with on offense for the Wildcats. Offensive linemen Kurt Pritchard & Bill Saxelby, both seniors, look to give him plenty of time to throw the ball or the block needed to get junior running back Ryan Kennedy through the hole.
Kennedy, was looking to step into the QB slot this year, till Turner moved to town. Kennedy didn't lose his spot as starting QB though, as much he allowed Libertyville to charge up their offense. "He's probably the best athlete on the team." said Kuceyeski. He'll be going both ways now too, playing free safety & running back. Something that probably no coach would have done with him if he had stayed a quarterback.
While just a junior, Kennedy could be the face of this Wildcat team this season & next, much the way former Wildcat & current Nebraska player RB/DB Santino Panico was.
The key points for the season according to Kuceyeski is how fast the new kids can step up. "Our goal for the season is 'Not Changing'. We want to win the conference for a 6th time in a row & get back to the title game." Luckily with the teams he feels are the ones to beat in 2005, Gurnee (Warren) &Lincolnshire (Stevenson), coming late in the season, the Wildcats should have enough time to get back to where they think they belong.
by Vincent Johnson
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