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This is somewhat of a new leaf for IC Catholic Prep.
Starting with a new turf field at Plunkett Park, second-year head coach Bill Krefft has split from the split-back veer offense to more of a zone-blocking scheme.
The offensive line returns no starters and for the most part doesn't offer the size of 275-pound, all-Suburban Christian Gold graduate Adalberto Suarez. Junior Stephen Stamm, good-sized at 225 pounds, did get considerable playing time in 2012.
The Knights must adjust to the graduation of quarterback Demetrius Carr, the Gold offensive player of the year who accounted for 26 of IC's 55 touchdowns last season.
Thus Krefft, who underwent significant change himself by getting married this summer, looks to develop consistency.
"When you ask somebody to act like they've been there before, it's pretty tough when you haven't been there before," he said.
Krefft is considering using Jack Copher and talented sophomore Rhashaun Epting at quarterback; when one's there the other may play receiver. Skill positions are the Knights' area of strength. Clark Brinkman and 2012 starter Sam Rose return at receiver with running backs James Janowski and Randy Leslie, who as a junior rotated in for 432 yards rushing with 7 touchdowns.
The 3-4 defense should also be an area of strength, more experienced with Brinkman returning 33 tackles at safety, Riley Ricobene making 32 at linebacker and Liam Hendricks bringing back 28 tackles as he moves from defensive end to linebacker.
Janowski, Leslie, Rose, Copher, Stamm, Sean Sutton and Tommy Guignan all got reps on defense. Newcomers include explosive freshman cornerback Jordan Rowell and junior defensive lineman Sam Lytton.
A fourth straight playoff berth would be richly deserved: Class 5A contender Kaneland is a Week 2 foe followed by ACC, improved St. Edward and heavies Marian Central, Montini and Aurora Christian.
"We're getting there," Krefft said, "but it's a work in progress."
Coach: Bill Krefft (second year, 7-4).
2012 record: 7-4, 4-3, tied for first in the Suburban Christian Gold.
Top players: Clark Brinkman (WR-DB, 6-3, 180, sr.), Jack Copher (QB-DB, 6-0, 185, sr.), Rhashaun Epting (QB-WR-LB, 6-3, 215, so.), Liam Hendricks (OL-LB, 6-0, 190, sr.), James Janowski (RB-LB, 6-1, 195, sr.), Randy Leslie (RB-DB, 5-10, 190, sr.), Riley Ricobene (LB, 5-11, 195, sr.), Sam Rose (WR-DB, 5-8, 170, sr.), Stephen Stamm (OL-DL, 5-10, 225, jr.), Sean Sutton (WR-DB, 5-11, 175, sr.).
Sat, 8/31 Noble Street at IC Catholic Prep 1 p.m.
Fri, 9/6 IC Catholic Prep at Kaneland 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/14 Aurora Central Cath. at IC Catholic Prep 1 p.m.
Fri, 9/20 IC Catholic Prep at St. Edward 7 p.m.
Sat, 9/28 Marian Central at IC Catholic Prep 1 p.m.
Fri, 10/4 IC Catholic Prep at Montini 7 p.m.
Fri, 10/11 Aurora Christian at IC Catholic Prep 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/19 Walther Lutheran and IC Catholic Prep 1 p.m.
Fri, 10/25 IC Catholic Prep at Chicago Christian 7:30 p.m.