While they don't represent an overwhelming percentage of IC Catholic Prep's football team, they stand as the pivotal pieces in the Knights' quest for a return to the playoffs this season.
"We have nine leaders out there every day helping us get to where we want to be," said Knights coach Bill Krefft. "We've had 20 seniors in past years, but this group of nine has just done a tremendous job bringing everyone together."
The senior leadership starts up front with Michael Perrone, a third-year starter, and Stephen Stam anchoring what should develop into a stout crew. They're two of the many talented two-way players.
"Our success or failure will depend on how we do up front," Krefft said.
Fullback-linebacker Max Eichhorn, running back-defensive back Jordan Rowell, receiver-linebacker Rashaun Epting, receiver-defensive back Nicky Leslie, receiver-linebacker Jose Rodriguez and lineman Sam Lytton are a handful of the other athletes expecting to carry the team.
With new offensive coordinator Tony Navigato, the Knights will enjoy an expanded playbook. While Krefft still envisions utilizing the veer of past seasons, there also will be more passing opportunities out of the pistol.
Quarterback Connor Youngman has a receiving corps that goes seven deep, and he'll take advantage. Rowell may be just a sophomore, but he's poised for a big year running the ball with Eichhorn.
"We've been more of a running team, but now we can open it up a little bit," Krefft said. "We're going to throw to open up the run."
The Knights' thrived last season with takeaways defensively, but they also struggled getting off the field in third-and-long situations. That's a focus for improvement this season in an attempt to give the two-way players a defensive breather.
Another focus is making an impact during their debut campaign in the Metro Suburban Conference.
"We're looking forward to it," Krefft said. "I'd say we're way ahead of where we thought we'd be."
Coach: Bill Krefft (third year, 13-8).
2013 record: 6-4, 5-2, first in Suburban Christian Gold.
Top players: Stephen Stam (OL-DL, 5-10, 225, sr.); Michael Perrone (OL-DL, 6-4, 205, sr.); Max Eichhorn (RB-LB, 5-10, 180, sr.); Jordan Rowell (RB-DB, 6-3, 185, so.); Rashaun Epting (WR-LB, 6-3, 215, jr.); Connor Youngman (QB, 6-0, 185, sr.); Nicky Leslie (WR-DB, 5-10, 155, sr.); Sam Lytton (OL-DL, 5-10, 210, sr.).
Sat, 8/30 Bishop McNamara at IC Catholic Prep 1 p.m.
Sat, 9/6 IC Catholic Prep at Breese Mater Dei 6 p.m.
Sat, 9/13 IC Catholic Prep at Walther Christian 1 p.m.
Sat, 9/20 St. Edward at IC Catholic Prep 1 p.m.
Fri, 9/26 IC Catholic Prep at Aurora Cent. Cath 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 10/4 Riverside-Brook. at IC Catholic Prep 1 p.m.
Sat, 10/11 Wheaton Academy at IC Catholic Prep 1 p.m.
Fri, 10/17 IC Catholic Prep at Glenbard South 7:15 p.m.
Fri, 10/24 IC Catholic Prep at Fenton 7:15 p.m.