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By Randy Whalen
There's really no offseason in high school football.
Especially when you're the defending State Champion.
So while Lockport Township began preparing for this upcoming season shortly after the 24-6 victory over Maine South in the Class 8A title game last season, there are a lot of summer workouts and activities as the games get closer.
Well, those summer practices are winding down. But they have certainly been busy and good for the Porters.
"It's gone well," Lockport football coach George Czart said. "We did three 7-on-7 camps and practiced a lot. I'm definitely happy. I fully expect all the guys that aren't playing to get better too."
Everyone was looking to get better and, although there has been conditioning and weight lifting since last December, it was great to be back with the team.
"Just being back on the field," Lockport senior middle linebacker Sean Marshall said of what he's enjoyed about the summer sessions. "Just being out there practicing, working on the defense and stuff.
"You can see it taking off more as we get out of the weight room and start to practice. I think we're looking at another good season. It's the same goal, another state championship."
Senior strong safety Jake Suchorabski agreed.
"A big highlight was putting the pads back on, getting back out there and getting contact," he said. "I feel there is a little pressure on us (as defending state champions) but we have a lot of seniors back that weren't starters last year and we can still fill those roles perfectly.
"I feel that everyone has brought a lot of energy and the work ethic is there at every position. Team wise a goal is that we want to go undefeated this year."
Not only did the Porters practice as much as allowed over the summer, but they also hosted a youth camp the week of July 18.
"Our flyer said that the camp age was fifth through eighth grade," Czart said. "But I've had a lot of young kids call and we don't turn them down. We (had) over 100 kids there to work on their skills. We had a lot of our guys working with the kids and it's great."
While the summer practices and workouts are serious, there are fun things too. Take the West Aurora "Battle of the Big Butts" that was held on Friday, July 15. There the Porters O-Line and D-Line first group won the tug-a-war competition and the second group finished in the top 8.
"The lineman challenges are fun for the kids," Czart said. "They like going there and having a good time."
Especially junior Nici Alexandros, who won the watermelon eating contest.
"It was actually right before the tug-of-war competition," Alexandros said of the watermelon eating contest. "You got a minute to eat a quarter of a watermelon or as much as you can in that time. There were seven different groups with about 35 people total. If you won your group, you moved on.
"In the finale, I pretty much wiped out the whole corner of the watermelon and easily won it. It was my first time in an eating competition but I've watched the (Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs) eating contest before."
Alexandros enjoyed all the linemen competition events.
"We won the tug-of-war," he said. "But there were also medicine ball throws, a 40-yard dash, a tire flip race, a 5-man sled push, and an agility course. It's just nice to compete against others in your position group. That's what is awesome, we're all big guys."
He is in competition for the right guard position and believes that the Porters will have another big season.
"We are looking to finish the summer off strong," Alexandros said. "We know on Aug. 8 that it is 'go time.' So we just want to build off this.
"It's definitely awesome to be a part of this. We all have one goal to continue it and keep the program up to what it has been the past few years."
The Porters will practice for the final times this summer starting on Monday, July 25, and continuing through Thursday, July 28. The actual tryouts start on Monday, Aug. 8. The season kicks off on Friday, Aug. 26 with a 6:30 PM home game against Joliet West.
"I just want to stay healthy and not get anyone hurt," Czart said. "I want the guys to step up in the weight room and in another push. Then get away, enjoy their families for a few days, and come back (on Aug. 8) to start fresh."
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