Camel's Jordan Kos tries to break free against Joliet Catholic in East Suburban Catholic Conference play last season.
STEVE LUNDY | Staff Photographer
Coaches will tell you that they can't teach size or experience.
Looks like the coaches at Carmel can happily focus on the things they can teach, because they got lucky this year.
Both size and experience are beyond covered for the Corsairs.
Head coach Andy Bitto welcomes back some sizeable linemen as well as the most experienced stable of runners and positions players in his 15 years as head coach.
"I've never had so much experience back at the same time," Bitto said of his offense in particular, which features six returning starters, including all four runners in the backfield. "Having that kind of experience back definitely makes you more calm and confident heading into a season.
"A lot of our guys have had conference championship experience, playoff experience. You can't teach that."
Back from last year's 10-2 squad that won the East Suburban Catholic Conference title and advanced to the Class 7A quarterfinals are starting ith rushers Jordan Kos, Michael Panico and Matt Maher, who is healthy after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 5 last year. They combined for well over 2,000 yards in 2010.
Also back is quarterback Brian Brennan, who started as a cornerback last year but was the backup quarterback and also got quite a few touches at halfback.
"We suspect that we'll be able to do a lot more with this group just because they are so experienced," Bitto said. "We'll be able to run multiple formations, multiple blocking schemes, multiple motions. We'll be able to get a little more (sophisticated) and make things confusing for defenses."
While the heads of opposing defenders might be spinning, their bodies could be, too.
The Corsairs are huge up front on the offensive line, which features two returning starters in guard Mike Dyer (6-foot-2, 262 pounds) and center Shane Toub (6-foot-3, 240). Tackle Matt Crisp brings even more size at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds while guard Jake Cochrane (6-foot-2, 265) and tackle Sean Terrell (6-1, 200) will also be touch to budge.
"Skill-wise, size-wise, we have the players to do some great things," Bitto said. "The other great thing is that we have some depth on this team. We have kids who would be starting on other teams or starting here in any other year. To get deep into the 7A playoffs, you really need 30 to 40 really good players and I think we have that. We have that kind of depth."
Defensively, Carmel returns five starters, including all-conference linebacker Tyler Lees. He registered 130 tackles last year.
Kevin Cox, another linebacker for the Corsairs, is back after getting 75 tackles in 2010.
On top of everything else, Carmel's kicking game should be sound with the return of Steven O'Block, who booted 4 field goals of 40 yards or more last year. Meanwhile, senior Jack Schoen could be an interesting addition. He ran cross country instead of playing football last fall but is back and is proving to be quite a threat at wide receiver.