at St. Charles North
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Did not play.
Outlook: A new season opener, each of these proud programs seeks a return to the playoffs after a long run. Last season St. Charles North missed the postseason for the first time since 2001. For Hinsdale Central, which reached a state title game as recently as 2008, the streak went back to 2000. That helped facilitate a coaching change at Hinsdale Central, where receivers coach Rich Tarka, a former head coach at Crete-Monee and Rich South, followed Mike DiMatteo. Tarka returns a trio of receivers in Tom Garvin, Nick Sellinger and Ryan Kelleher who last season combined for 45 catches and 600 yards. Similar depth can be found at the running back position and even at quarterback with Danny Callahan and Brian Owens. Offensive lineman Ryan Callen is weighing Mid-American Conference offers. "I have a lot of confidence that we'll score points," Tarka said. With only one defensive starter, linebacker Andrew Pyle, returning for Hinsdale Central, St. Charles North may be able to say the same thing. The typically high-scoring North Stars are in the same boat as Hinsdale Central in the quarterback department, as earlier this week coach Mark Gould indicated last year's backup, Collin Peterson, and junior Ryan Fischbach, were still neck and neck. St. Charles North's main returning experience resides on the offensive line with A.J. Diehl, Kyle Breith and Dan Cassidy all back, which is a plus for another returner, 195-pound back Will Ohlrich. Though St. Charles North averaged a solid 32 points per game last season it also gave up plenty, as last year's season-opening 52-12 loss to South Elgin proved. Aggressive play by a largely inexperienced defense with players like sophomore Reece Conroyd, defensive lineman Mike Begovich and returning starting linebacker Sam Scorby will be an emphasis starting with Hinsdale Central. "You're your own opponent" in the first game, Gould said. "The real focus this week is not to make mistakes."
Next week: Leyden at Hinsdale Central, Sept. 2; Plainfield Central at St. Charles North, Sept. 2.