MACOMB, Ill. - The Western Illinois Football team reported for fall camp on Wednesday in anticipation of Friday's first practice. The Leathernecks will have 27 days to prepare for the 2011 season opener at Sam Houston State on Thursday, September 1st.
Thirty-five letterwinners are joined by other returning squad members and 26 first-term Leathernecks looking to give the program its second-straight NCAA Division I playoff appearance and 10th overall. Head coach Mark Hendrickson, entering his second full year in charge of the program, and his staff enjoy this time of the year.
"This time of year is very exciting for the coaching staff and I know it's equally exciting for the student-athletes. Yesterday (Tuesday) we had our first meeting with our first-time players. There already was a lot of enthusiasm and energy in the air with that group and the staff getting together for the first time," said Hendrickson. "This afternoon (Wednesday) the entire 2011 team got together for the first time in our team meeting room... we're glad to be back together and can't wait to get started."
Due to the on-going renovations at Hanson Field with the removal of the natural grass and installation of the Matrix Turf surface, the Leathernecks will workout at the three practice fields. According to Hendrickson, the new surface adds to the excitement of 2011.
"It (the Matrix Turf) adds another reason to be excited about the fall, knowing that soon we're going to walk into Hanson Field and be on that new turf. We still have our same three practice fields that are in great shape so our preseason camp will be as always on the grass fields. Sometime during camp that new turf will be completed, and then we'll begin to work out there," said Hendrickson. "It will just be another shot in the arm probably around the time everybody's starting to get a little bit tired and we'll need a shot in the arm."
The team will work out in helmets-only the first two days, then two more in shells before going full pads early next week.
The latest football information throughout fall camp can be found on www.GoLeathernecks.com. Season tickets for the five home games are also on sale, either on the website or by calling (309) 298-1190.