Waubonsie Valley Ready to Roll!

Paul Murphy

Waubonsie Valley is a #1 seed in 8A. That's right. That Waubonsie Valley. The one that played second and third fiddle to other schools in the Naperville/Aurora area for years is now the top dog thanks to an "Attitude & Mindset" mentality by the community & the players.

Waubonsie Valley head coach Paul Murphy has seen success. He was a successful head coach at Aurora (Ill.) Marmion before joining John Thorne's staff at North Central College.

It took awhile for Murphy and his assistants to change the culture at Waubonsie Valley but they like the view from the top of the mountain.

"For years it was the Naperville/Neuqua schools." Coach Murphy said.

"For years, Waubonsie Valley was looked down upon as the little brother. We needed to have an attitude and mindset that we could win and that we could compete. Everyone is buying in now.

"Two years ago we finally had a team that felt could win it all. We ended up losing in the play-offs to Downers Grove South that year and last year we had a very good team that lost in double over-time to a Homewood-Flossmoor team that went to the semi-finals.

"The sophomores I had that are now seniors were 8-1 as freshman and sophomores and now their hard work has paid off. We have bought in as a team. We beat Naperville Central for the first time this year in a long, long time.

"It's been a "Buy In" from not only our kids but our community. We have a successful feeder program now and I think once you get your kids believing that they can be successful and more than a one and done play-off team, that's when you turn the corner."

Waubonsie Valley opens up play-off action this Friday night against Belleville East. The Warriors only loss this season came at the hands of Bartlett.

"We were 2-0 for the first time in years," Murphy explained. "We got a little bit to big for own good and Bartlett beat us. We're more focused now."

Waubonsie Valley is led by senior wide receiver Dee Gray and running back Austin Guido on offense. Junior quarterback Dylan Warden has done an excellent job running the offense this year.

"Dee (Gray) has been phenomenal this year," Murphy said. "He gets double-teamed a lot and he is just the most unselfish player I've coached. He never complains about not getting the ball and he's a leader in every sense of the word.

"Austin Guido is as good a running backs as I've ever coached and that includes all-state back Tommy Koutsos who I coached at Marmion. I'm not a college coach, I don't know what they are looking for but Austin can play D-1 football. MAC level for sure.

"I really like what Dylan Ward has given us at quarterback. For a junior, he's been everything and done everything we've asked of him. Dylan is good at managing the game and he doesn't put us in bad situations. He's a dual-threat quarterback that has very quick feet, explosive acceleration and he throws an accurate football."

Murphy says he has the best defense that he's had in his seven years at Waubonsie Valley. Inside linebackers Tommy Wooten and Austin Lacke pack a punch and a pair of really good ones in Zac Steele and Zack McCabe anchors the defensive line.

What will it take to for Waubonsie Valley to get to Champaign?

"I like our draw," Murphy said. "I like our chances. You never like to look ahead but looking at our bracket, I see Naperville Central vs. Minooka being a great game. We could end up with Marist in the third round and possible Bolingbrook down the road. It's never easy in 8A. Never easy in the play-offs but we're ready to go."

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