DOWNERS GROVE – Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition in which cartilage and a thin layer of bone comes loose from the end of a bone, most often in the knee. It's a condition Ryan Policheri suffered from, and one which forced him to have offseason knee surgery. Eight weeks on crutches, twice-a-week physical therapy sessions and one missed rugby season are behind the offensive lineman as he prepares to help guide Downers Grove North's football team on another deep playoff run.
Rossi: How hard was it to limit your activity after your surgery?
Policheri: It was hard. I just wanted to run. I play rugby in the spring and I wanted to play so bad, but I had to sit out. It was hard to limit myself.
Rossi: How are you and the team feeling looking ahead to this season?
Policheri: I'm excited for this season. As a team we're looking more solid with all the returning starters. I didn't think I'd notice a difference, but I can definitely notice we're a more solid team this year.
Rossi: What's it like to be the team wearing the target after a solid postseason last year?
Policheri: It feels good. Last year we were a solid team but we had problems closing out games. Hinsdale Central was a close game, and Glenbard West our defense played really well. It's good to be seen as the team to beat.
Rossi: A week into practice, was the offense or defense looking better?
Policheri: Of course I'm going to want to say offense, but our defense has some good players. Coach likes to put his best players on defense and we have one of the best front fours in the state. I think our offense is still good, but our defense is probably better.
Rossi: What are your personal goals this season?
Policheri: I was really working on speed because last year with my funky running style [because of the knee] I wasn't too fast. I just want to accomplish being faster. I'm already pretty quick, but being faster making downfield blocks and all that stuff is my goal.
Rossi: What are you most looking forward to this season?
Policheri: Football is my favorite sport and I can't wait to get hitting again.
WEEK 1 MATCHUP
Who: Downers Grove North at Lockport
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: 1333 E. Seventh St., Lockport
2012 records: Downers Grove North 7-5; Lockport 1-8
Outlook: The Trojans maintain their season-opening rivalry game against Lockport, which they've played to start the season every year since 2009. North's option offense, led by returning players in quarterback David Edwards and running back Kyle Leto, returns virtually intact. The same goes for the defense. After advancing deep in the playoffs last season, the Trojans should expect to take every team's best shot, including Lockport's.
"I believe people are picking us higher than we should be. We've got a couple thoroughbreds that will be playing Division I football, but other guys on our team have to play up to that level with them." John Wander
BY THE NUMBERS
1,221: Total yards for quarterback David Edwards last season, 719 rushing and 502 passing
6: Sacks for defensive end Vontae Diggs last season; he had 16 tackles for loss
7.3: Average yards per carry for returning running back Kyle Leto last season as he rushed for 775 yards and seven TDs
Aug. 30 at Lockport, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 Hinsdale South, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 Glenbard West, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Oak Park-River Forest, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 27 Lyons Township, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Downers Grove South, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 York, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Proviso West, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.