WOODSTOCK – Some fresh voices on the sideline and a new attitude have invigorated Woodstock’s football team with its season opener less than two weeks away.
A change in attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed by players through the first few days at practice. Senior running back Mike Santucci admitted it can sometimes be tough to stay positive as the Blue Streaks work through a stretch where they’ve gone 7-20 over the past three seasons, including a 4-5 mark last year. But this year Santucci and his teammates are optimistic the program is headed in the right direction.
“All the guys, they’ve bought in for sure, and I think that’s the most important thing,” Santucci said. “You look back at the game film and see what you need to work on. You go to practice the next week and you need to fix those things. It’s all about execution. You have to stay positive.”
Part of that optimism stems from the addition of three new coaches featuring a heavy background in Woodstock’s football program.
Former Streaks head coach Bob Bradshaw, who roamed the sidelines for 17 years at Woodstock and is an Illinois Football Coaches Hall of Fame member, is coaching the offensive and defensive linemen. Todd Anderson, a former player who graduated from Woodstock in 1994, is in charge of the defensive backs and wide receivers, while Bobby Mickey coaches the linebackers and running backs.
“There’s a little bit of an adjustment period. We had to get to know them at first,” senior linebacker/guard Augie Scott said. “But they’ve given us good instructions.”
Streaks head coach Steve Beard believes his team is truly embracing a live-in-the-moment mentality, which Woodstock hopes will pay off on the field.
“If there’s something that the seniors of 2013 have learned it’s that you have got to take every practice snap, every game play with an urgency that this could be the play that makes us conference champs or makes us playoff contenders,” Beard said.
Good team chemistry also has stood out through the start of practices. A tight-knit senior class has come together with a talent group of juniors, which so far has carried onto the field.
“Obviously losing [stinks], it makes everybody want to work harder in the offseason, and I think things are going to start to change this year,” Scott said.
With quarterback Alan Hafer and running backs Santucci and Nick Rogers all returning in the backfield – they’ve played together for the past seven years at various levels – Woodstock has a solid core offensively and creates a comfort level backed by great camaraderie.
Beard said much of what Woodstock needs to improve on revolves around its blocking and assignments. For the Streaks to have success offensively, particularly running the ball, the offensive line has to jell. Woodstock opens the season at home against Oswego East on Aug. 30.
“We have a really strong run game, and we’ve really bought into our pass game,” Rogers said. “That’s going to help us a lot from last year. We’re going to be more balanced.”
Back under center as a senior, Hafer said Beard has worked with him on reading the defense. Hafer wants to take on a greater leadership role, especially in helping guide the Streaks to their first playoff appearance since 2009.
“I feel I can be a dual-threat quarterback with the handoff and pass game,” Hafer said. “ ... But for right now, [we’re] focused on one game at a time. That’s all we can hope for.”