LISLE – Zach Trussell is part of a large contingent of players returning to a Lisle team that narrowly missed out on a playoff berth last fall. Heading into his final high school season, Trussell will have a large hand in the Lions' success this year as a two-way lineman.
Rossi: What does it mean to have so many returners on both sides of the ball?
Trussell: It means a lot because it's our last year. We've all been playing football together since third grade, and football has been one of the big sports for our grade. We just want to have a good season. It's our last season, our last time playing together, so we want to do it right and make it special.
Rossi: Where have you personally improved over last season?
Trussell: I've gotten quicker. I've gotten stronger and lost weight. It's my fourth year so what the coaches have been teaching me over the four years is all coming together now so hopefully we can put it together for the season.
Rossi: Do you like playing defense or offense better?
Trussell: I like them both the same, I've got to say that. I like hitting people, getting out there, getting after people and hitting.
Rossi: What play call would you want to make with the team needing a score late in a close game?
Trussell: I'd want to run a run play to the right in my hole. I'd want to be the lead blocker on that play. 'Fourteen follow whatever,' anything to my side.
Rossi: How is the adjustment to playing offense this year going for you?
Trussell: I played offense before in the past, but last year coach wanted me going just one way, not both ways. This year we're low on numbers and I'm a senior, so they're expecting me to go both ways.
Rossi: Have you guys as teammates talked about your goals for this year?
Trussell: I think we all have the same goals. We want to win every single game, but we also want to take it one game at a time. We can't think ahead. Each team is just as good as the next one. This is our last time playing these teams for the rest of our lives so we have to go out there every week and take care of business.
Rossi: When you have so many seniors, how does that help the team chemistry?
Trussell: It helps a lot because the juniors look up to us and we have to set a good example. We've been through this last year, and some of us played varsity our sophomore year so we know what it's like. There's no room for errors.
Rossi: What are you trying to impart to the younger players on the team this year?
Trussell: Every day in practice go hard on every single play. No letting up. Every single play you have to go hard.
WEEK 1 MATCHUP
Who: Manteno at Lisle
When: 7:15 p.m. Friday
Where: Benedictine University, 5700 College Road, Lisle
2012 records: Manteno 5-5; Lisle 5-4
Outlook: The Lions dropped last year's season opener to the Panthers, 34-22, setting the tone for an up-and-down regular season. Lisle hopes a win in this one can set the table for a more successful 2013. Griffin Huba is new at quarterback, but the Lions return offensive linemen Kyle Dwyer, Jared Arellano and Billy Losonsole. Look for an experienced defense to help carry the Lions early in the season.
"The problem is we're low on numbers. We're an injury away. Football is a tough sport to not count on that happening. You wonder who and when, and you hope that it's something that can heal quickly and that people can pick up the slack. We're down under 25 [players], so we're going to have to use our imaginations as coaches to keep us as healthy as possible." Dan Sanko
BY THE NUMBERS
24: Players on Lisle's varsity roster this fall
4.4: Average yards per carry for running back Cliff Krause last year
.413: Lions' winning percentage the last five seasons
Aug. 30 Manteno, 7:15 p.m.
Sept. 6 at Herscher, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Seneca, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 Reed-Custer, 7:15 p.m.
Sept. 27 Dwight, 7:15 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Wilmington, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 Westmont, 7:15 p.m.
Oct. 18 Peotone, 7:15 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Sandwich, 7:30 p.m.