Immaculate Conception first-year coach Bill Krefft knows what it takes to succeed, having starred for the Knights' 2002 Class 3A championship team.
"The seniors are really determined and focused," said Krefft, last year's defensive coordinator who succeeded the one-year term of Chris VanDyke. "It helps to have that in the program."
Linemen Adalberto Suarez and Sean Fenton, linebacker Joe Iavarone, defensive back Adam Muellers and receivers Tim Hipskind and Kody Baker have been staples three years now. Quarterback Demetrius Carr, the 2011 Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division offensive player of the year and an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association honorable-mention all-state pick, is a three-year starter counting his sophomore season at St. Joseph.
Carr's junior year was a rousing success. A known quantity as a runner who gained 721 yards and 7 touchdowns, he unfurled a big arm that completed 73 passes in 127 attempts for 1,201 yards, 12 touchdowns.
He'll play a more safety this year, which may increase the interest of college programs such as Kansas and Northern Illinois. But the main emphasis will be added responsibility for an offense tweaked from straight option to a more prostyle look with backs Sam Antes and junior Randy Lesley taking handoffs.
"In the past he's been excellent in executing his technique, performing his role very well," Krefft said of Carr. "But he's never had to have the load of calling his plays on top of that. It's nice to see that he's able to call the offense and check in and out of what we're in."
Most of the youth is on the defensive side, players such as linebacker Riley Ricobene, lineman Mike Mesnard, defensive backs Sean Placey and Genard Bell. Anchoring the 4-3 scheme is Iavarone, second in 2011 with 54 tackles.
"I cannot say enough about how hard these kids have worked," Krefft said. "Flexibility and adaptability is a major strength -- the best of attitudes and the hardest work ethic."
-- Dave Oberhelman
Coach: Bill Krefft (first year).
2009 record: 6-4, 4-1, second in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division.
Top players: Kody Baker (WR-DB, 6-3, 175, Sr.), Demetrius Carr (QB-DB, 6-3, 210, Sr.), Sean Fenton (OL, 6-2, 210, Sr.), Diego Herrera (OL-DL, 6-0, 217, Sr.), Tim Hipskind (WR-DB, 6-3, 180, Sr.), Joe Iavarone (RB-LB, 5-11, 200, Sr.), Adam Muellers (DB-WR, 5-10, 180, Sr.), Adalberto Suarez (OL-DL, 6-0, 275, Sr.).
Sat, 8/25, Noble Street Charter at Immaculate Conception, 1 p.m.
Sat, 9/1, Wheaton Academy at Immaculate Conception, 1 p.m.
Fri, 9/7, Immaculate Conception at Aurora Central Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/14, St. Edward at Immaculate Conception, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/21, Immaculate Conception at Marian Central, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/29, Montini at Immaculate Conception, 1 p.m.
Fri, 10/5, Immaculate Conception at Aurora Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/13, Walther Lutheran at Immaculate Conception, 1 p.m.
Sat, 10/20, Chicago Christian at Immaculate Conception, 1 p.m.