The Glenbard East Rams have fashioned a new motto.
"It's about winning football games now," said coach John Walters. "We feel like we have guys in places to win."
Walters' excitement stems not from leaving the DuPage Valley Conference for the Upstate Eight Valley -- a nonfactor, he said -- but from 13 returning starters and playmakers from a 7-2 sophomore team.
"I think what's helped us more than anything, the strength of our team is the depth of competition," Walters said. "We've got really good juniors that are going to play on Friday nights."
For example, a herd of slot and wide receivers includes last year's stat leaders, Joey Moore and Alex Ciszewski, plus Richard Schager, Conor Glennon, Zach Walsh and Karon Keyes, whose 4.5 speed makes him Walters' fastest player.
Commanded by second-year offensive coordinator Bob Stone, a state hall of famer, the spread scheme returns starters at quarterback and running back, Drake Pusateri and slippery Dominic Wilberton, respectively. Pusateri, nicknamed "Slash" due to his versatility, may at times line up in the backfield, slot or split end with junior quarterback Phil Abruzino in a Wildcat formation.
Better yet, big Ben Sullivan, the Rams' lone first-team all-DVC pick in 2013, returns at offensive guard, among four linemen with starting experience, including towering Air Force recruit Chris Ryan at tackle.
Defensively, Glenbard East's 4-3 set returns some of its top tacklers -- safety Jack Difino, linebackers Mickey Farnham and Justin Griffin -- plus interior linemen Chris Arrington and Tommy Ciborowski. Newcomers Anthony Allen, Dominick Wroblewski, Davontae Smith and 6-foot-2 safety Darrell Wilson are among many in the mix.
"It's a great group of kids who all get along with each other," Walters said. "That chemistry's important for a team to be successful. They don't care who scores it as long as it's scored; they don't care who tackles it as long as it's tackled."
Coach: John Walters. (fourth year, 4-23; fifth year overall, 6-30).
2013 record: 2-7, 1-6, seventh in DuPage Valley Conference.
Top players: Jack Difino (DB-K-P, 5-9, 170, sr.), Mickey Farnham (LB, 6-0, 210, sr.); Justin Griffin (LB, 6-1, 215, sr.); Karon Keyes (WR, 5-7, 145, jr.); Joey Moore (WR, 5-8, 165, jr.); Drake Pusateri (QB, 6-0, 195, sr.), Chris Ryan (OL, 6-7, 250, sr.); Ben Sullivan (OL, 6-1, 300, sr.); Dominic Wilberton (RB, 5-6, 170, sr.); Dominick Wroblewski (DL, 6-1, 245, jr.).
Fri, 8/29 Glenbard East at Willowbrook 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/5 Oswego East at Glenbard East 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/12 Neuqua Valley at Glenbard East 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/19 Glenbard East at East Aurora 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/26 Waubonsie Valley at Glenbard East 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/3 Glenbard East at Bartlett 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/10 Glenbard East at South Elgin 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/17 Metea Valley at Glenbard East 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/24 Glenbard East at West Aurora 7:30 p.m.