Don't expect Downers Grove North's football team to abandon the split-back veer offense any time soon.
But with senior quarterback Riley McGinnis back behind center for the Trojans, look for a little more offensive diversity.
"It's not going to be 2 yards and a cloud of dust," said Trojans coach John Wander. "He throws a very good ball and he's a bright young man. We'll look a little different with him back there."
While there's optimism with McGinnis, who threw for 600 yards last year, protecting him and keeping the ground game churning falls on an inexperienced offensive line. In fact, defensive end John Holecek is the only lineman on either side of the ball returning significant experience.
The skill players including running backs Robert Sheppard and Tony Rada, who returns 450 rushing yards, and receiver Ryan Henry appear solid. As Wander knows, however, success boils down to development in the trenches.
"We're dealing with small young men," Wander said. "We need to get a steady offensive and defensive line going."
Look for Sheppard, Rada and fellow two-way player Brandon Salter to lead the defense along with returning safety Matt Underdown. After allowing an average of more than 300 yards and nearly 30 points a game a year ago, that side of the ball is a definite emphasis.
Even with all the offense surrendered, Downers North still came a handful of plays away from making the playoffs. The Trojans split their first two games but then lost six straight the first five by 7 points or fewer.
Downers North was better a year ago than its 2-7 record indicated. This year the Trojans hope the record reflects their ability to play with anyone on a tough schedule.
"It's those few plays a game you have to turn around and have them go your way," Wander said. "It's that little intangible we're trying to find."
Coach: John Wander (10th year, 57-41).
2010 record: 2-7, 1-5, sixth in West Suburban Silver.
Top players: Riley McGinnis (QB, 6-1, 185, sr.); Robert Sheppard (RB-DB, 5-10, 165, sr.); Tony Rada (RB-LB, 5-9, 208, sr.); Matt Underdown (DB, 5-11, 175, sr.); Ryan Henry (WR, 5-11, 175, sr.); John Holecek (DL, 6-1, 205, sr.); Brandon Salter (LB-RB, 5-10, 155, jr.); Steve Kanis (WR, 5-10, 150, jr.); John Ellis (OL, 6-3, 250, sr.); Justin Novotny (DL, 6-0, 220, sr.).
Fri, Aug 26 @ Lockport 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 2 Morton 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 9 @OPRF 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 16 Lyons 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 23 @ Downers South 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 30 York 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 7 @Proviso West 7 p.m.
Fri, Oct 14 @Hinsdale Central 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 21 Glenbard West 7:30 p.m.