JOLIET – When you watch the Joliet Central football team practice, it's like chaos, organized chaos, all over the field.
You have coaches teaching, players working and listening, head coach Brett Boyter moving all over the field with words of encouragement.
The Steelmen are 0-45 over their five seasons since the return of separate programs at Joliet Central and Joliet West. You would never know it watching this team at work. The talk is always the same – practice, play and do everything like champions.
"We are very proud of our players and coaches," said Boyter, entering his fourth year at the helm. "It's a testament to our players and the standards that we expect. I'm so happy with how our coaches work together and teach not only the game, but life lessons to the players."
However, the talk always comes back to the win, just breaking through and being a part of that first victory.
"That first win is important for this program," senior returning starting offensive guard Sal Ruiz said. "We get that win, more will come out, people will look at this program differently. We have a great group of guys this year. We are very competitive. We still have a lot of work do do, we are working on everything, but this should be our year."
Ruiz kept talking about winning and the importance for the program. Even as a senior, he knows the importance for the future.
"When, not if, we get that first win, it is a program win," Boyter said. "These players understand it takes everyone, from the scout team to the players on the field. Everyone has an important role on this team."
This will be the Steelmen's last season in the SouthWest Suburban Blue Conference. Next year the will make the move, along with Joliet West, to the Southwest Prairie.
This season, Central will open on the road at Thornridge, then have the home opener on September 4 against Rich South, in the first of two Friday night home games.
"We want to leave the SouthWest Suburban on the rise and build momentum going into the Prairie," Boyter said. "It will be different in the Southwest Prairie because every game will be a conference match-up. But right now we are looking forward to this season."
Offensively, the Steelmen will be led by sophomore Zach Wisneski at the quarterback position, along with four other returning starters. Defensively, they return five starters.
Wisneski started as a freshman and Boyter said he has shown tremendous improvement over the summer.
Joining Ruiz on the offensive line will be senior Alex Ruettiger at a tackle position. Ruettiger has started since his sophomore year and, like many of the Steelmen, is a two-way player. He also plays defensive end.
"I'm excited about this season," Ruettiger said. "We have some really good skilled people on offense and if our line can come together, we could score some points. Getting that win is really important, but we also know that we will not be satisfied with just one. We want to be able to compete in every game we play. The coaches do a great job of getting us prepared, not only for the season, but for each game."
Central having players who play on both sides of the ball presents its own problems at times.
"Our offensive line is pretty good, but we have to come up with a rotation on both lines," Boyter said. "That is where we are a work in progress, finding that rotation to keep us a little fresher."
"Getting a win will be the affirmation to all of these players that hard work does pay off. The bottom line is about the experience they all have as a high school athlete. They learn that there are no short cuts. You show up and do your job. If you continue that with your life, it will all come to fruition someday. We do this together as a team."
STEELMEN AT A GLANCE
Coach: Brett Boyter
2014 record: 0-9, 0-7 in SouthWest Suburban Blue
Classification enrollment: 3,113 (probable class 8A)
Offensive coordinator: Tony Juarez
Defensive coordinator: Kyle Kneztic
Returning offensive starters: QB Zach Wisneski, WR Kameron Smith, LT Alex Ruettiger, RT Jerimiah Crisostomo, RG Sal Ruiz
Returning defensive starters: S Malek Harden, CB Marcus Stone, CB Jomarre McNair, OLB Cameron Harvey, DE Alex Ruettiger
August: 28 – at Thornridge, 7 p.m.
September: 4 – Rich South, 6:30 p.m.; 12 – Lockport, 1:30 p.m.; 18 – at Homewood-Flossmoor, 7:30 p.m.; 26 – at Joliet West, noon
October: 2 – Sandburg, 6:30 p.m.; 9 – at Bolingbrook, 7 p.m.; 17 – Lincoln-Way East, 1 p.m.; 23 – at Stagg, 7 p.m.