Football: New beginning the theme at Lincoln-Way Central
By Dick Goss email@example.com July 3, 2013 8:52PM
Lincoln Way Central's Dominic Botta (6) | File photo
Updated: August 5, 2013 6:43PM
When Brett Hefner stepped aside as Lincoln-Way Central football coach after the 2012 season, athletic director Hud Venerable delved into the process of collecting resumes.
Little did he know the choice for the next Knights head coach, at the urging of principal Steve Provis, would be ... Hud Venerable.
Venerable was working Central’s youth camp and was not on hand when the Knights participated in the recent University of St. Francis 7-on-7 Passing Jamboree at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
However, the coach can rest assured the Knights put in the same effort as they have all summer. After finishing 4-5 and narrowly missing the playoffs a season ago, and with their move from the SouthWest Suburban Blue to the SouthWest Suburban Red, they are confident they can return to the postseason extravaganza for the first time since 2009.
“It’s exciting,” senior defensive back and slot receiver Dominic Botta said. “We have a lot to learn, but we’re all excited and we’re all committed to it. We believe we can do it.”
The coaching change is among the reasons.
“I liked Hef a lot,” Botta said. “I cried when he left. But I’m anxious for this new start.”
“The things about Hud, he’s a personable coach,” senior cornerback and slot receiver Tyler Hosman said. “He’s a good motivator. It can be a boring day, and he gets us hyped up.
“We have a new coaching staff. They’re changing things up in terms of our tempo on the field. There’s higher intensity now. It’s great.”
The Knights were 7-20 overall in Hefner’s three seasons. In 2012, losses of 21-17 to Homewood-Flossmoor and 7-3 to Sandburg, both in Blue games, cost them a playoff berth.
“I think we were up 17 points against H-F and didn’t finish,” Botta said. “That one really hurt.”
Even though Central will play in the SouthWest Suburban Red this fall, Sandburg and Lincoln-Way East remain on the schedule as the opponents in Weeks 1 and 2. Lincoln-Way North, which Central beat 28-27 in overtime in the 2012 opener, Lincoln-Way West, Andrew and Bradley are among the usual Red heavyweights.
“Even though people say the Blue is better, the Red has good teams,” Botta said. “We have to do our best to win games whoever we play.”
“I’m looking forward to the rivalry games,” Hosman said. “We beat North last year. We’ll be familiar with all our opponents. They’re basically a lot of the same ones that we had last year.
“East is really good, of course, but anybody can win any game.”
One can feel excitement building in Knights camp.
“We’re up mentally,” Botta said. “We want to win not for us, but for the school. We want to make the most of it for the kids coming up below us. We want to prove something to everyone who doubted us.”
Venerable was a highly successful coach at Normal Community before leaving to become Central’s athletic director. He had a 126-37 record in 14 seasons with the Ironmen, 38-3 the final three years (2005 through ’07). His 2006 team was the Class 6A state champion.
He favors an option offense. He knows what works.
“The new offense and defense are going in slowly but surely,” Hosman said. “We’re going to be better offensively with the new offense and new staff.
“We’ve definitely slimmed things down, and that’s good. We need every guy to do his job. If one guy does the wrong thing, everything else gets messed up.”
Botta noted that some new things to learn “will take some time. But I know we’ll be ready for the season.”