No area football program enjoyed more quarterback stability the last six years than Wheaton North.
Now the focus is on a stable ground game.
The pivot began last season when Sam Singleton rushed for 878 yards and 13 touchdowns and Antowon Tolbert came up from the sophomore team to rush for 342 yards and 3 scores.
J'Kolbi Grant is the only returning offensive lineman, but the Falcons bring back fullback Michael Jarosz and tight end Tyler Johnson to bolster the run blocking.
Johnson also will be counted on to be a primary target for first-year starting quarterback Rhett Netzer, who replaces graduated third-year starter Luke Anthony.
"The quarterback spot is something we haven't had to think about in a while," coach Joe Wardynski said. "We'll be a run-first team, but we don't want to be too one-dimensional. We still want to be balanced."
The Falcons have their hands full trying to replace graduated linebackers Erik Mueller and Danny Walker, but bringing back third-year starter Bo Neidballa, last year's team leader with 74 tackles, certainly helps.
Like the offensive line boasting five seniors, the defensive line is about eight deep headed by returning starter Sean King.
The strength of the defense is the experienced secondary with safeties Jackson Gray and Trenton Hegranes and cornerback Drake Dickinson.
Team motivation is clear: break the Falcons' string of three straight 4-5 seasons and push the program back into the playoffs.
"It's been a while since we had a taste of the postseason," Wardynski said. "This group wants to get back there."
One to watch: The Falcons have a brutal stretch to end the season, including Week 6 against Glenbard North.
Coach: Joe Wardynski (10th year, 59-36).
2016 record: 4-5, 3-5, sixth in the DuPage Valley.
Top players: Bo Neidballa (LB, 5-11, 210, sr.), Sam Singleton (RB, 5-7, 170, sr.), Tyler Johnson (TE, 6-3, 225, sr.), Trenton Hegranes (DB, 6-2, 195, sr.), Jackson Gray (DB, 6-3, 200, sr.), Drake Dickinson (DB, 5-11, 175, jr.), J'Kolbi Grant (OL, 5-10, 275, sr.), Michael Jarosz (RB, 6-1, 220, sr.), Sean King (DL, 6-0, 235, sr.), Antowon Tolbert (RB, 5-9, 210, jr.), De'Quan Ramsey (DL, 6-1, 220, sr.), Alex Adams (WR, 6-2, 190, sr.), Jameson Smykal (LB, 6-2, 195, sr.).
-- Kevin Schmit
Fri, 8/25, Wheaton North at Wheaton Warrenville South, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/1, Wheaton North at Joliet Catholic Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/8, Wheaton North at Naperville North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/15, Metea Valley at Wheaton North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/22, Wheaton North at Lake Park, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/29, Glenbard North at Wheaton North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/6, Neuqua Valley at Wheaton North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/13, Wheaton North at Naperville Central, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/20, Waubonsie Valley at Wheaton North, 7:30 p.m.