It doesn't get more old school than Downers Grove North football, but the Trojans are about to kick it up another notch.
The smallest school in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division is facing shrinking rosters like everyone else. In response the Trojans plan to shift away from a two-platoon mentality and have more players going two ways.
It's not an ideal situation, but it's the best way to keep the best players on the field.
"We've tried two-platoon football for a few years, but I don't think that's the best way to go anymore," coach John Wander said. "We're going to go away from what we've done a little bit. The best players are going to play."
The two-way play is epitomized among the bevy of athletes at running back and linebacker. It fits in with the obvious strategy of stopping the run on defense, with run-stuffers like lineman Ethan Roesch, and controlling the ball on offense.
Outside linebacker Blake Davis may be the unit's best player, and he's joined at the second level by Logan Harmon and Michael Miglio. Sam Taviani is a standout at cornerback, but keep an eye on sophomore safety Drew Cassens, also the team's backup quarterback.
Last season the offense ran the ball 10 times for every one pass. That margin will narrow with the return of quarterback Jack Carr and receiver Matt Wehrs, but the focus remains on the option behind an experienced line.
Drew Shelly and Jordan Byers return while Carr led last season's team with 308 rushing yards. Junior Tavion Thompson is a nice addition from the sophomore team.
Overall it's a physical team capable of surviving the West Suburban Silver gauntlet.
"I'm loving this team," Wander said. "They have that hard-nosed mentality."
One to watch: Week 2 against Gold champion Leyden will be a good test for the Trojans' playoff hopes.
Coach: John Wander (16th year, 85-74).
2016 record: 4-5, 2-4, fifth in the WSC Silver.
Top players: Jack Carr (QB, 5-11, 175, sr.), Drew Shelly (RB, 5-8, 165, sr.), Jordan Byers (RB, 5-9, 165, sr.), Blake Davis (LB, 6-1, 180, sr.), Ethan Roesch (DL, 6-4, 240, sr.), Drew Cassens (DB-QB, 6-2, 180, so.), Matt Wehrs (WR, 6-1, 175, sr.), Sam Taviani (DB, 6-0, 180, sr.), Logan Harmon (LB, 5-10, 190, sr.), Tom Ward (OL, 6-2, 240, jr.), Michael Miglio (LB, 5-11, 175, sr.), Tavion Thompson (RB, 5-9, 175, jr.), Jim Flavin (OL, 6-3, 225, sr.), Trevor Cassens (OL, 6-2, 245, sr.), Jack Freres (OL, 5-11, 300, sr.).
-- Kevin Schmit
Fri, 8/25, Downers Grove North at Lockport, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/1, Leyden at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/8, Downers Grove North at Proviso West, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/16, Downers Grove North at Hinsdale Central, noon
Fri, 9/22, Glenbard West at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/29, Downers Grove North at Oak Park-River Forest, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/6, Lyons Township at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/13, Downers Grove North at Downers Grove South, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/20, York at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.