Boys Water Polo: Hinsdale Central earns top-25 preseason ranking
Courtesy of illpolo.com, Hinsdale Central made a little history prior to the start of the 2012 season.
The Red Devils are ranked No. 24 in the website’s preseason Top 25 poll, a first-time feat for a program in its 10th season.
“It’s a big deal for the boys and more important to the public,” said Central coach Martin Bell. “It all depends on how you do.”
Led by junior George Koulouris, Hinsdale Central has plenty of returnees from a squad that finished third in the West Suburban Conference behind Lyons Township and Oak Park-River Forest.
Perhaps the biggest highlight last season was fifth-seeded Hinsdale Central’s 12-10 victory over fourth-seeded Waubonsie Valley in the Neuqua Valley Sectional quarterfinals. The Devils lost to top-seeded Naperville Central 20-5 in the next round, but the point was made. It was Hinsdale Central’s first playoff win under Bell, who’s in his third year.
“I’m excited about the work ethic with these kids,” Bell said. “We have not had these type of kids at Hinsdale Central since I’ve been here.”
The Red Devils (16-15 overall in 2011, 3-2 conference) lost four starters from last season, but Alex Cruz and Drake Kinney return, along with former reserves Pat Gallagher, Brogan O’Doherty, Dan Ciciora and goalie Mitch Courtney.
Hinsdale Central’s biggest loss likely was goalie John Gibson, who graduated. Courtney, a junior, was the backup last year, and now takes over full-time.
“We are junior-dominated,” Bell said. “We have a total of five seniors on the team.”
Last season, Koulouris and Cruz were a pair of sophomores who received plenty of playing time by the end of the season. Kinney is considered one of the team’s top returning seniors.
According to Bell, the three players showing the biggest signs of improvement are O’Doherty, newcomer Andre Brown and Gallagher.
Central opened the season with a 12-1 victory over Morton on Monday. The Red Devils compete in the Stagg Invitational Friday and Saturday.