For years Hinsdale Central's football team leaned on college-caliber offensive linemen and matching quarterbacks.
It'll look a little different for the Red Devils this season, but that doesn't mean this won't be another great team. Expectations remain high with running back Luke Skokna, receiver Garrett Oakey and Indiana-bound tight end Matt Bjorson coming back.
"With those three guys you've got three different kinds of players," coach Dan Hartman said. "We certainly can't complain about our skill positions. We've got a lot of talent there."
Skokna's a workhorse who last season rushed for 1,078 yards and 16 touchdowns. Oakey caught a team-high 25 passes and 5 touchdowns, and Bjorson's a 6-foot-3, 225-pound ball magnet in the red zone.
The offensive line returns only Roy Fuller, and the quarterback situation still is being settled between Connor Bauer and Matt Rush. It'll take time for the offense to click like it did during last season's West Suburban Conference Silver Division title run.
"We're hoping for one of those quarterbacks to emerge and take the starting spot," Hartman said. "If we're able to run the ball it'll help take pressure off them, but they both have a feel for what we're trying to do."
Linebackers Nik Andrejevic and Aidan Cruickshank combined for 70 tackles, and Nick Biancalana and Max Kuropas return to the secondary. The entire defensive line graduated, leaving the Red Devils thin on experience on both lines.
One thing they're not thin on, though, is experience at winning. As the Red Devils showed in Hartman's first three years, they find a way.
"This is the first group I've seen all the way through, so I think they'll carry the torch," Hartman said.
One to watch: Dangerous Oak Park begins the Red Devils' WSC Silver title defense in Week 3.
Coach: Dan Hartman (fourth year, 24-7).
2016 record: 9-1, 6-0, first in the WSC Silver.
Top players: Matt Bjorson (TE, 6-3, 225, sr.), Luke Skokna (RB, 5-9, 170, jr.), Garrett Oakey (WR, 5-11, 177, sr.), Nick Biancalana (DB, 5-7, 160, sr.), Max Kuropas (DB, 6-0, 175, sr.), Nik Andrejevic (LB, 5-11, 160, sr.), Aidan Kruickshank (LB, 5-11, 175, sr.), Roy Fuller (OL, 6-2, 250, jr.), Brendon Passarelli (OL, 6-3, 280, jr.), Connor Bauer (QB, 5-11, 175, sr.), Matt Rush (QB, 6-1, 180, jr.), Joey Buonavolanto (RB, 5-7, 175, 0sr.), J.T. Kolke (WR, 6-0, 155, sr.).
-- Kevin Schmit
Sat, 8/26, Hinsdale Central at St. Xavier (Ohio), 5 p.m.
Fri, 9/1, Willowbrook at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/8, Hinsdale Central at Oak Park-River Forest, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/16, Downers Grove North at Hinsdale Central, noon
Fri, 9/22, Hinsdale Central at York, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/30, Proviso West at Hinsdale Central, noon
Sat, 10/7, Hinsdale Central at Glenbard West, 1:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/13, Lyons Township at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/20, Hinsdale Central at Hinsdale South, 7:30 p.m.