Batavia football senior center Patrick Gamble sported an "EAT YOUR ENEMY" Nike football T-shirt as the Bulldogs broke for lunch Monday morning.
His garb in no way represented any hostility toward sandwiches, nor was a tie-in to #LetsEat, Batavia's motivational offseason Twitter hashtag that sprouted from defending its Class 6A state title.
"Oh, this is just a shirt I bought," Gamble said. "It works out."
#LetsEat also proved conveniently prevalent at other times this summer, namely when Gamble and classmates Nick Bernabei, Noah Frazier and Mitchell Krusz joined coach Dennis Piron in the latest round of occasional captain's dinners.
"Talking about the schedule. What we're going to do. Adding other captains. How players are doing," said Krusz, the Bulldogs' right guard.
Naturally, the 2013 season was a topic of conversation during the meals. While the Bulldogs aim to turn the page from their title run to recharge for another in 2014, there still are elements they'll forever embrace.
"Just the feeling, how awesome it is," Frazier, a fullback and defensive lineman said. "The biggest thing we talked about last year [in postseason] was you get one more game for our seniors. You get one more game with your teammates and kids you grew up with, you know.
"We've been together since childhood, playing backyard football, and this is it. After this, you know, a lot of us are going to go off. We won't see each other, at the very least, for a long time. So we know it's just about getting to the playoffs, then just getting one more game with your brothers."
Backing up: Ramon Lopez was a two-way stalwart for St. Charles East last season, and projects to remain so as a senior – with a twist.
Lopez still is part of East's running back rotation but defensively is shifting to free safety after mostly playing linebacker in the past.
East has a substantial void at safety with Brannon Barry's graduation and should be OK with its linebacker depth in its 4-2-5 defensive scheme.
"It's a little different because I'm used to being up but it's a lot of fun," Lopez said. "With the way our defense is working, I'm still coming up a lot on the run to help out.
"It's something to get used to and we're working through but it's a lot of fun."
Injury bug still biting: Marmion has been one of the area's hardest-hit programs by injury in recent years, and the trend is continuing. Already, projected two-way starters Jordan Glasgow (meniscus surgery) and Sean Campbell (stress fracture) are sidelined. Both running backs/defensive backs should return in time to play most of the season, according to Cadets coach Dan Thorpe.
Glasgow, one of the area's top running backs, also saw his junior season dampened by injury.
"I'm not happy but I'm kind of excited that we [already] knocked out two out of those five injuries that you kind of have every year," Thorpe said. "So we'll get Sean back, we'll get Jordan back, and what it does is give other kids the opportunity to step up. We always say 'The phone's ringing, who's going to answer it? ' "
On location: Geneva returned to Good Templar Park on the east side of the city to open fall camp. The Vikings will train there once more today before returning to campus Wednesday, following a longtime practice of coach Rob Wicinski, who stumps for the benefits of solitude.
"It's nice. We're kind of isolated out here. No one is really watching us. It's all just us," Vikings senior quarterback Daniel Santacaterina said. "It's teammates just sweating together and picking each other up when we're down and tired. You know, you've just got to stay together, and that's what it's going to be like in the field in the fourth quarter. So we've got to keep being good teammates and love each other. That's the most important thing."
• Sports editor Jay Schwab contributed to this report.