Addison Trail has waited three years for this football team.
Forged two years ago with the promotion to varsity of seven talented sophomores, the Blazers bring back 16 starters from a playoff team in hopes of claiming the program's first West Suburban Gold title since 2006.
"The skill we have on both sides of the ball might be the best we've had," said Blazers coach Paul Parpet. "These kids have been determined to get better ever since last season ended."
Headlining the list of third-year starters is converted quarterback Anthony Catanese, the Gold's offensive player of the year in 2010 after he rushed for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns and caught 24 passes for 270 yards and 5 touchdowns. Backfield mate Anthony Messina returns 600 rushing yards and 8 scores.
With three linemen and tight end Tom Caputo returning, expect to see the Blazers improving upon their 1,600 rushing yards from last year. They'll also be protecting quarterback Trevor Bermingham, who threw for nearly 900 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"It might be the biggest offensive line we've ever had," said Parpet, noting junior tackles Wyatt Klemm and Nathan Biewer each weigh more than 260 pounds.
While the senior class is loaded with skill players, the junior class provides the depth that will allow the Blazers to significantly reduce the number of two-way players they've relied on in past seasons.
Third-year starters Kevin Kent and Mike Imperiale bring tremendous talent at linebacker for a unit aiming to dominate opposing offenses. Leading tackler Vince Beltrano and speedster Delricien Smith return to the secondary.
If everything goes according to plan for the Blazers, they'll play host to Downers Grove South in Week 9 with the Gold title on the line. After falling a game short of the Mustangs a year ago, it's an opportunity Addison Trail anxiously awaits.
For the senior class it's an opportunity three years in the making.
"I truly believe this group of seniors is a special group of kids," Parpet said.
Coach: Paul Parpet (second year, 5-5).
2010 record: 5-5, 5-1, second in West Suburban Gold.
Top players: Anthony Catanese (RB-WR, 5-10, 180, sr.); Trevor Bermingham (QB, 6-4, 185, sr.); Anthony Messina (RB-LB, 5-10, 205, sr.); Kevin Kent (LB-RB, 6-0, 190, sr.); Mike Imperiale (LB-TE, 6-2, 210, sr.); Vince Beltrano (DB, 5-8, 175, sr.); Delricien Smith (DB, 6-2, 195, sr.); Tom Caputo (TE-DL, 6-2, 210, sr.); Jake Newsome (OL, 6-0, 215, sr.); Greg Schultz (DB, 6-2, 180, sr.); Nick Wisniewski (WR, 5-11, 200, sr.); Francisco Castelan (DB, 5-7, 155, sr.); Nathan Biewer (OL, 6-5, 260, jr.); Wyatt Klemm (OL, 6-3, 265, jr.).
Fri, Aug 26 West Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 2 @ Proviso West 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 9 Leyden 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 16 @ Hinsdale South 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 23 Morton 7:30 p.m.
Sat, Oct 1 @ Proviso East 1:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 7 Glenbard West 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 14 @ Willowbrook 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 21 Downers South 7:30 p.m.