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Oesterle: Optimism abounds as fall season starts

Published: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 8:28 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 8:34 p.m. CDT

During the course of this week, I have spent a lot of time at early season practices at varying shools and varying sports. One common theme has emerged, as it usually does at the start of a season.

Enthusiasm.

It flows from players and coaches. Not only are they excited to be back in the swing of things, but they are excited about the prospects of the season ahead. And, for the football teams around here, that enthusiasm seems to be justified at first glance.

Seneca is coming off a 9-3 record and its first playoff season in more than a decade and has increased numbers in the program. Both are reasons for enthusiasm, and it would be nice to see the Irish come back to their former prominence on the gridiron.

Coal City’s playoff machine just keeps rolling. They lost in the first round last year to finish, 5-5, but it marked the 24th time in the past 27 years that the Coalers were in the postseason. That’s a remarkable string of success, especially for a small public school, and there is no reason to believe it won’t continue.

In Minooka, coach Paul Forsythe enters his third year, so his system is starting to take hold. The Indians were 3-6 last season, but the Southwest Prairie Conference is so balanced that anything can happen on any given week. A few breaks this year that they didn’t get last year, and don’t be surprised to see the Indians in the playoffs. Of course, playing Morris and Providence Catholic the first two weeks before heading into conference play isn’t doing them any favors. But, with a running back like Nathan Gunn in their arsenal, Minooka could be explosive.

As far as Morris, the Redskins are coming off a very un-Redskins-like 3-6 season. However, the optimism and enthusiasm for the season is high in camp, thanks mainly to 15 starters returning from that team. Coach Alan Thorson has liked what he has seen from the work turned in over the summer, particularly on the offensive line, and he has quarterback Griffin Sobol and running back Jake Walker returning as two big offensive weapons. In nine games last season, Walker ran for more than 1,000 yards and should be a key cog in the offense again this season.

I am looking forward to this season, as well. Not going to lie, the print deadline on Friday night for Saturday’s press run is very tight. Depending on game start times and length of games in general, we might not have time to get everything we want into Saturday’s paper. Rest assured, however, the info you want will be up on our website just as soon as we can after the games. It’s a new era and a new challenge, but I am looking forward to it. I hope you are, too.

UPDATES

Just a few quick look-ins on how our local professional pitchers are doing.

Mike Foltynewicz of Minooka is up with the Houston Astros. His fastball is big-time, as a couple of them hit 100 MPH in his most recent outing Thursday night against the Red Sox. However, his location seems to need a little work as he has allowed 13 hits in seven innings. However, he has only walked one, though, and has six strikeouts and sports a 7.71 ERA. Houston seems to be committed to giving him big-league innings, though. There’s a lot of season left, especially for a young talent, such as Foltynewicz, to make a mark.

In Triple-A, Morris’ Zach Petrick continues to be a solid performer for the Memphis Redbirds in the Cardinals’ organization. He is 6-5 with a 4.42 ERA. In 106 innings, he has struck out 69 and walked 32.

Minooka grad Tony Bucciferro recently made the jump from Single-A to Double-A in the White Sox organization. With the Birmingham Barons, he is 1-2 with a 5.71 ERA. In 171⁄3 innings, he has struck out seven and walked four while allowing 26 hits.

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