Brandon New gave St. Viator football something new last fall: the program's first playoff berth in three seasons.
Now the second-year coach would love to see the Lions build on that season and continue to be a major player in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.
"It's a tough conference," said New, whose team was 5-3 last season before dropping its final two games, to St. Patrick and No. 2 seeded Lakes in the state playoffs.
"Not a lot of people expected us to have that season after going 2-7 the year before," New said. "So we want to continue that. You've got to have some luck, stay healthy and execute."
Back to execute the offense will be senior quarterback Bobby Calmeyn, who threw for more than 1,000 yards last season.
"It's always nice to return your quarterback," New said. "Bobby has an understanding of our scheme and I don't know If I've seen a better pure passer."
Among the top targets for Calmeyn will be junior wide receiver-cornerback Ben Dickey, junior Matt Darling, senior tight end-linebacker Joe Faerber, senior wide receiver Nick Desmond and senior wide receiver-safety Mike Piet.
Lining up behind Calmeyn will be junior running back-safety Brian Peters, who started as a sophomore. He'll be running behind a line of senior center-defensive tackle Andrew Hansen, senior tackle-defensive tackle Jack Brandt, senior guard Tom Gorman, senior guard Charles Walberg and senior offensive and defensive tackle Tom Madaras.
"To be successful, we've got to run and throw the ball," New said. "We've got to take what the defenses give us."
Returning starters on defense include senior defensive end Zack Niro and defensive tackle Connor Purk.
Newcomers are senior defensive back Matt Yoder, junior safety Oliver Perry, senior defensive end Connor Brennan and senior linebacker Ryan Calmeyn.
"We have kids who understand our system and philosophy," said New, who graduated five all-conference players and an all-stater. "We've added a few things here and there. We just want to go out and play as hard as we can.
"The first thing we say as coaches we will make sure we have the kids in the right spots. But they have to execute. We want to continue to improve as a program. Obviously, it's all about the varsity. But we are concerned, too, about the lower levels because that is the future."