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New challenge arrives : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
New challenge arrives
Class 6A champ Batavia to host Oswego in Week 1

by Kristin Sharp


Oswego head football coach Brian Cooney has kept his Panthers busy throughout the summer months, participating in camps and 7-on-7 events around the area.

The summer schedule closes out next week, followed by a short hiatus in early August. The 2014 season begins on Aug. 11 with the first day of practice.

"We've been to our fare share this summer, primarily a lot of competition on Tuesdays," Cooney said. "I don't put too much stock in the 7-on-7s, but it's good to see what we can do though. As soon as we can get our helmet and shoulder pads on and start knocking, we'll see who can deal with it and who can play with what our expectations are. We'll get a pretty good sense of where we're at and what we've got."

Oswego also traveled to Illinois State for a team camp in late June. Cooney was able to get a look at some up-and-coming players as well as the condition of his veterans and the work they've put in during the offseason.

"The kids who are coming back that were juniors last year are bigger, faster and more explosive. You can really see a difference," Cooney said. "Where we are green, we're really green. Primarily on the defense, we lost a lot of guys. It's not that we can't find people to fill those holes, we just need some time to get there."

The IHSA released the 2014 schedules earlier this month, with Oswego adding Class 6A defending state champion Batavia to its non-conference schedule in Week 1. The Panthers will travel to Batavia on Aug. 29 for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The last meeting between these former conference foes came during the 2004 season. The teams did not meet in 2005 - the final year of the Suburban Prairie Conference. Batavia was part of the SPC North Division, while Oswego was part of the SPC South. Batavia moved into the Western Sun for the 2006 season and spent four years in the Western Sun Conference. Batavia is now a member of the Upstate Eight River Division. Batavia finished 13-1 last fall.

Oswego finished 9-3 in its first season as a Class 8A playoff contender, reaching the quarterfinals.

"Geneva dropped us from their schedule and we started looking for other opponents to see who would be a good fit for what we wanted. Soon after the season ended, the state champion, Batavia, contacted us," Cooney said. "If you're going to be an 8A school that wants to go deep into the playoffs, you've got to be able to take on a team like Batavia. They're a team that doesn't rebuild; they reload. They've got a great coach and they've got a lot of guys coming back. The core of what they need is there, and we're looking forward to the challenge."

Oswego will host Waubonsie Valley for the final year before Waubonsie Valley makes scheduled changes for 2015. The Southwest Prairie Conference season opens in Week 3, with Oswego hosting Plainfield Central on Sept. 12. Other home games at Ken Pickerill Stadium include Romeoville (Sept. 26) and Plainfield North (Oct. 17). Oswego will travel to Oswego East for the anticipated crosstown challenge on Oct. 3.

"This is the last time we'll play Waubonsie before they restructure their conference," Cooney said. "We're going to look at a totally different non-conference schedule next year. We're looking forward to that one. It was an exciting (second round) playoff win last year and we'll see if we can repeat. It's always a tough task."

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