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Riverside-Brookfield first-year boys water polo coach Peter Murphy is so enthusiastic about his new gig that he has literally jumped into the action when the Bulldogs are short of workout players.

“The favorite part of my day is practice,” said Murphy, who is also a substitute English teacher at RB. “I’ve always loved the game as a player and [now] as a coach. This is a really good group of kids. I see some of myself in them when I was in high school.”

Murphy, who played water polo at York, is relying on hole set senior captain Kyle Miller and fellow captain/utility player Nick Lazzara to lead the relatively inexperienced Bulldogs.

“Kyle is our leading scorer and just a natural athlete,” Murphy said. “Nick is one of the most driven kids I’ve been around. He has a great work ethic and really applies himself in the water.”

Sean Demuro, David Kidwell, Ken Castle and the Somers brothers, Dan and Tim, are also key players in the RB lineup. Demuro is an excellent speed swimmer while Kidwell is developing solid defensive skills. Along with Miller, Castle returns as a top scorer for RB and the Somers brothers are promising underclassmen. Freshman Simon Kritikos is the Bulldogs’ goalie.

“Simon is coming around,” Murphy said. “He comes to practice and works hard. All of our players are making marked improvement. I’m trying to incorporate a competitive edge into practices, but it’s also really important that the kids have fun.”

While the varsity has lost some close games recently, the Bulldogs are showing signs of progress. They lost to Niles West 15-12 in overtime on Saturday.

Along with assistant coach Greg Osier, Murphy is enjoying the teaching process with his impressionable squad.

“I tell [the players] to keep their heads up,” Murphy said. “I’m here to serve the kids and the parents. The focus is to keep our guys working hard, having fun and improving over the course of the season.”

RB hosts Oak Park today (Wednesday, March 30, 5 p.m.) and Foreman (Thursday, 5 p.m.) during spring break this week.