Talk about the little things.
All that stood between Hinsdale South's football team and an unbeaten regular season in 2012 were 13 points spread over three losses. The Hornets spent the off-season working on what might have been done differently to reverse those tiny margins.
"We looked at what areas we need to progress in," said Hornets coach Mike Barry. "You look at the tangibles and the intangibles."
Tangibly speaking, Barry wants a more physical team to give the Hornets an advantage in the trenches. It looks like he'll get his wish this season on both sides of the ball.
Hinsdale South's defensive line will be especially physical. Barry believes Antanas Riskus is a Division I caliber end, while 6-foot-6, 245-pound sophomore Josh King is well on his way.
Run defense is a clear strength, even with a new group of linebackers. Experience in the secondary with Michael Fassero, Mark Watson, Jawahn Downing and Seneca LaBoy brings the returning starter count to six.
Five starters return on offense, although the Hornets will be without 1,000-yard rusher Arian Toney early in the season. They also welcome a new quarterback, Jake Czajkowski, to replace two-year starter and All-Area pick D.J. Deolitsis.
Czajkowski has the benefit of a pair of big passing targets in 6-3 Shaun Dulleck and Mark Watson in addition to Robert Regan, the team's backup quarterback. Like on defense, the offensive line -- while young -- will be extremely physical while running the option.
"I'm very confident in what we have out there on offense," Barry said. "We'll be a physical team that can be explosive."
That explosiveness will be hampered early by Toney's absence, but the Hornets need to play around the loss.
"We always want to be diverse in our offense," Barry said. "We look at what we do well and what the defense gives us. That's how we'll be successful this season."
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Fri, 8/30 Hinsdale South at Romeoville 7 p.m.
Fri, 9/6 Hinsdale South at Downers North 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/13 Willowbrook at Hinsdale South 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/21 Hinsdale South at Proviso East 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/27 Addison Trail at Hinsdale South 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/4 Hinsdale South at Leyden 7:30 p.m.
Fri,10/11 Hinsdale Central at Hinsdale South 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/18 Morton at Hinsdale South 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/25 Hinsdale South at Downers South 7:30 p.m.