The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Ben Kanches

For the second home game of the season, the Wildcats lined up against The Stevenson Patriots.


Wildcat football has returned and is in the midst of their season. The Cats have adopted a new style of play this year with the plan to reload, not rebuild, their team. At the time of publication, the team was 0-4, with the hopes of turning around the second half of their season.


  The quarterback is the player on the field who sets the cadence for the offense. The traditional, established pause for a huddle in between plays allows time for the quarterback to run to the sideline for instruction and the next play call from the coach, along with providing the other players time to catch their breath. But this season, the Cats are striving for a faster approach with the ball by converting to a no-huddle offense.

  “The difference is the tempo and how fast it’s going to be. We’re trying to run a play after the ball gets set every 12-15 seconds,” explained LHS varsity football Head Coach, Mr. Mike Jones.

  The play calls are now communicated from the coaching staff on the sidelines through a system of hand signals and symbols to the entire team at the same time as opposed to sharing the next play to the quarterback, who then  tells the rest of the offensive players in the huddle. The players now are required to finish a play and immediately look to the coaches for the next call, testing their stamina and ability to work cohesively with minimal time to regroup.

  “Another thing that is a positive is that [they] can’t worry about what happened in the previous play because [they] have to go get lined up for the next play,” said Coach Jones. “It helps get that out of [their] mind and move forward.”

  The strategy to move the ball down field has remained the same, but now the usage of a no-huddle system increases the hopes of catching the opposing defense off guard. The efficiency and success of the offense rides on having all 11 players on the same page in order to execute and produce results.

  “It’s always communication that is a challenge. You have to be able to move fast, see the signal and line up in the right spot as fast as you can. So, any breakdown in communication anywhere along the line causes an issue,” explained Coach Jones.

Ben Kanches


  After the coaches observed and took into account the type of players the program currently has, along with those coming up, they discussed the benefits of a shake-up for the defensive scheme. Traditionally having size and strength, the Wildcats ran a 4-2-5 system, which was a front-heavy defense, but with small, yet fast and aggressive defenders, the program decided to move to running a 3-4 scheme.

  “Our philosophy in coaching since Coach Jones has taken over is [that] we are going to run schemes that highlight our players. It’s not going to be the other way around,” explained varsity football Defensive Coordinator and Safeties Coach Mr. Tim Budge. “We don’t want them to have to fit into our schemes. We want our schemes to fit around our strengths.”

  The Cats dedicated the summer to transitioning into their new defensive roles by understanding their updated placements and refined responsibilities. Budge discussed that the biggest challenge was simply just the learning curve of running a new system and finding ways to focus on the changes from their old defense.

  Senior defensive cornerback Brendan Bowlby explained that the defense transformation was not just a quick fix, but a process.

  “We had to spend a lot of time off the field to learn all the new concepts that we had to do [for the new system],” said Bowlby.

  The team had various film sessions and slowed down the speed for walk-throughs to ensure that players were able to get a grasp of their positions.

  The 3-4 scheme allows the players to utilize multiple different alignments and become more unpredictable to the opposing offense. The biggest alteration occurred on the line, as the Wildcats now rely on three defensive linemen instead of four, creating a balanced front. The goal for the linemen is to penetrate into gaps and make plays as an alternative to reading and reacting to the offense’s first move. The new system allows the defense to employ different pass coverage options and new angles to blitz from, Coach Budge said.

  “I think this is going to be huge in covering the spread offenses in our conference and in the power-run game. We can do a lot with deception now,” stated Coach Budge.

  The concept of accountability was emphasized by the coaches and embraced by the players. The idea of progressively getting better each week and simply just executing the plays is a part of the main plan for the Wildcats this season.

  “We need to band together and always remember to stick to our roles…everything we do needs to be precise and deliberate,” said Josh Stair, a junior outside linebacker, in an email interview.

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