Good programs don't rebuild, they just reload.
That hasn't always been the case at Neuqua Valley, yet under head coach Bill Ellinghaus the Wildcats have simply gone from pretenders to Class 8A contenders in just two years.
Ellinghaus has led Neuqua Valley to back-to-back deep state playoff runs, including a program-best state semifinal game in 2012 along with last season's quarterfinal loss in the rain to eventual Class 8A state champion Naperville Central.
So how have the Wildcats and their third-year head coach gotten it done in South Naperville? If you talk to Bill Ellinghaus he's the first to point towards his kids, his assistants and literally everyone and anyone who has ever been in contact with Neuqua Valley football.
Still, the head man in charge also has had a few things to do with the current run at Neuqua Valley.
After seeing the Wildcats in person this summer, including at the recent Wheaton South Red Grange Classic 7-on-7 performance, I don't see this Wildcats program dropping off anytime soon.
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The offense is led by senior Indiana State verbal commit Broc Rutter (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) who will trigger an offense with seven starters back in the fold in 2014. Rutter is simply a kid who someday has the potential to make several larger college coaches look back and ask, "Why didn't we offer that kid?" The defense, which has been a work in progress for Ellinghaus also welcomes back six starters. The overall numbers, depth and excitement has never been higher at Neuqua Valley.
Their schedule is never a gimme. The Wildcats open with neighborhood rivals Naperville North and Naperville Central, both of whom will become conference rivals starting in 2015. Neuqua Valley, along with sister schools Waubonsie Valley and Metea Valley, leave the Upstate 8 Valley for the DuPage Valley Conference as an already tough schedule just gets even tougher.
It's looking to be another "up" year for Neuqua Valley in 2014, and it seems that the "up" season and high expectations are the latest craze in South Naperville.
That's what happens when you can just reload instead of rebuild.