For Lisle to be successful, the last man standing has got to be quarterback Nick Saul.
Starting out of necessity in 2010 as a sophomore, Saul took his medicine early as the line jelled and he learned varsity speed. Over the last six games he completed better than 50 percent of his passes and tossed 12 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.
That's the touch Lisle will need to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
"I think if he stays upright he's going to have a real good year," said veteran Lions coach Dan Sanko.
Helping ensure that will be two returning starting linemen, right tackle Dan Kisla and left guard Drew Martin. Sanko also is looking at returnee Cori Beckman, junior Matt Bucher and tough senior center Jon Dee.
For three years, Lisle's main man was Anthony Ventrella. He played on both sides of the ball and entered last season as Lisle's "running quarterback" before Saul captured the position.
The graduations of Ventrella and 2010 offensive counterpoint Mitch McCarthy leaves the Lions flexbone option with returning back Nick Leonard, who ran for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns last year; and receiver Ty Howell, who twice had games of 110 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Returning senior wideout Andy Populorum didn't start last season, but Sanko calls him "our wild card. He's got the talent, he's got the body, he's got the speed."
The 4-3 defensive scheme lost a player owning those features. Defensive end Terrance Allen, who recorded 10 sacks among his 41 tackles as a junior, is now attending Downers Grove South.
"It's a huge loss for us," Sanko said.
Two-way starters Howell, Kisla, Leonard and returning safety Robbie Dean, who made 43 tackles in 2010, hope to diminish the impact.
"I think we're going to be pretty quick on defense," Sanko said. "I think we've got to pursue the ball. I think our bad matchup is going to be a team that's big up front."
Coach: Dan Sanko (15th season, 68-69).
2010 record: 4-5, 4-1, second in the Interstate Eight Conference Small Division.
Top players: Robbie Dean (DB, 6-0, 155, sr.), Ty Howell (WR-LB, 6-0, 180, sr.), Dan Kisla (OL-DL, 6-4, 235, sr.), Nick Leonard (RB-LB, 5-11, 200, sr.), Drew Martin (OL, 5-8, 190, sr.), Nick Saul (QB, 6-5, 185, jr.).
Fri, Aug 26 Plano 7:15 p.m.
Fri, Sep 2 @ Coal City 7:15 p.m.
Fri, Sep 9 Westmont 7:15 p.m.
Fri, Sep 16 @ Wilmington 7:15 p.m.
Fri, Sep 23 Dwight 7:15 p.m
Fri, Sep 30 Reed-Custer 7:15 p.m.
Fri, Oct 7 @ Seneca 7:15 p.m.
Fri, Oct 14 Manteno 7:15 p.m.
Fri, Oct 21 @ Herscher 7:15 p.m.
Home games at Benedictine University