They have not been wearing pads and most of the time their helmets are off, but members of the Deerfield High School football team are spending part of each day getting ready to defend their Central Suburban League North Division Title this summer.
The Warriors are engaged in their annual summer camp at Adams Field most mornings and the occasional seven on seven scrimmage—that is when they wear helmets—with other teams. They are in their third week and finish July 27.
“We find out a lot about ourselves,” Head Coach Steve Winiecki said. He is starting his 14th season at the Warriors’ helm. “It’s like spring ball in college. We are introducing concepts. It’s all about Deerfield here.”
Winiecki is also instilling a winning attitude into this year’s edition of the Warriors. Last season Deerfield dropped its first three games before sweeping its next six to finish undefeated in the conference and take the league title.
“Last year’s goals are this year’s expectations,” Winiecki said. “We expect to stay on top. We don’t want to be a one hit wonder.”
Tough Deerfield engages in seven on seven scrimmages with other teams, it is not the type of drill that gives Winiecki a full picture of the team’s potential for the coming season. “It’s about the passing game,” he said of the drills. “We’re a running team.”
On Monday, the Warriors will be in full gear giving Winiecki and his staff a better look at what the Warriors can accomplish. “The last two weeks we’ll play some real football,” he said. After that, the players get some time off before two-a-day drills start August 8.
With seven starters returning on defense led by All Central Suburban League Strong Safety Jake Balder, Winiecki expects his defenders to keep Deerfield in a lot of games this year. “Our defense will be very good at the start of the season,” he said.
In addition to Bolder, cornerbacks Tim Shanley and Brett Freedberg return along with linebackers Tom Bonadies and Michael Maki. Nose tackle Pat Johnson and defensive end Brian McCann are back for another year.
Offense was hit by graduation with only center David Vanderkloot and tackle Casey Spiwak coming back. Winiecki has several prospects making an impression this summer for quarterback and fullback.
“Fullback is the linchpin of our offense,” Winiecki said about the Warriors option attack. “We have lots of competition but we won’t know anything until we have helmets and shoulder pads (on).”
Fullback candidates include Bonadies, Maki, Alec Frank and Landon Hinds. Contending for the quarterback position are Xander Howritz, Matt Kollada and Ben Ethridge. Winiecki expects all of them to make a contribution. “They will all be on the field playing somewhere,” he said.