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Football preview: West Chicago Wildcats look for change of fortunes in new conference

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 9:19 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:52 a.m. CDT
Caption
Erica Benson-ebenson@shawmedia.com West Chicago's Rushi Thaaker fields the ball while the team prepares for their football season during practice Friday August 16 2013.

AT A GLANCE
Class:
7ACoach: Bill Bicker2012 record: 0-9Conference: Upstate Eight, first year in league

TOP RETURNERS Jordan Lelito sr. QB Colin Lelito sr. FS/WR Alex Starkey sr. OL Ethan Doell sr. OL Mike Favia sr. DE Dustin Beck sr. DE

KEY NEWCOMERS Danny Lazzerini jr. RB Robert Eckler jr. RB Peyton Seidler jr. TE/FB Alex Mitchell jr. WR Mike Otzwirk jr. LB WHAT TO WATCH

NEW RIVALS: West Chicago competes in the Upstate Eight conference for the first time this fall after leaving the DuPage Valley Conference. The Wildcats will be in the Valley Division for one season before switching to the River.

"It's exciting to be around new schools and see new teams," coach Bill Bicker said. "But it's still challenging. It is tough to win a football game, it doesn't matter what conference you are in. You have to work hard no matter where you are at."

ATHLETES ABOUND: One major positive this fall for the Wildcats is they are more athletic on both sides of the ball. Dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lelito engineers an offense that also features running backs Danny Lazzerini and Robert Eckler and receiving threats Peyton Seidler and Alex Mitchell. Defensively, West Chicago might lack size but will try to be fast and physical.

IMPROVED 'D': It is safe to say that the Wildcats' defense won't put a scare into opposing offenses with its size. But with more athleticism in that group than in years past, expect to see an improved unit in 2013. Safety Colin Lelito is the leader with Mike Favia and Dustin Beck also returning as defensive ends. Mike Otzwirk is a newcomer who should contribute at linebacker.

"We have to be fast and physical on defense," coach Bill Bicker said. "And we will have to find a way to get our best kids on the field. Some kids will play both ways."

COACH'S QUOTE "I like our skill set. These guys don't plod around the field; it's fun when you see kids who are pretty good athletes. And they compete, they are real competitive."Bill Bicker Wildcats head coach
BY THE NUMBERS
4: Returning starters for West Chicago on both offense and defense1: DuPage Valley Conference wins for the Wildcats during the past three years5: Opponents on West Chicago's 2013 schedule that made the playoffs a season ago

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