Scouting the Hinsdale Central Red Devils
Qualifying for the playoffs hasn't been a problem for Hinsdale Central's football team.
Advancing deep in the bracket is another story.
With that in mind, the Red Devils enter the season with more talent than they've had in years. Perhaps since they reached the Class 8A final in 2008.
Ten years later Hinsdale Central is likely to extend one streak of seven straight postseason appearances while attempting to avoid another streak -- seven straight seasons not advancing past the second round.
"With all the guys we have back, expectations are definitely high," coach Dan Hartman said. "We feel like we can compete with anyone."
Even with all-state tight end Matt Bjorson graduated, the offense is stacked. Running back Luke Skokna, who last season rushed for 1,264 yards and 14 touchdowns, returns with three linemen and fullback Luke Pyle. Matt Bobak will spell Skokna.
Quarterback Matt Rush missed much of last season due to injury, but his return is a huge boost. He'll be working with an untested batch of receivers.
"Any time you return your quarterback it helps a lot," Hartman said. "Hopefully, that'll open things up for the run game."
The defense is even more experienced led by linebacker Aidan Cruickshank, who last year had 131 tackles. He's one of seven returning starters from a group that held six opponents to 2 touchdowns or fewer.
Five of those opponents were in the West Suburban Silver, including a loss to conference champion Glenbard West. The Red Devils came 5 points shy of winning the Silver title, a result they'll try to flip this year.
"It always starts with the conference," Hartman said. "We've been right there, and we plan to be right there again."
One to watch: An opener against Naperville Central? Count us in...
Coach: Dan Hartman (fifth year, 32-10; eighth year overall, 59-19).
2017 record: 8-3, 5-1, second in West Suburban Silver.
Top players: Luke Skokna (RB, 5-9, 170, sr.), Aidan Cruickshank (LB, 5-11, 185, sr.), Matt Rush (QB, 6-1, 180, sr.), Nick Franko (LB, 6-0, 190, jr.), Brendon Passarelli (OL, 6-3, 310, sr.), Joe Monahan (OL, 6-1, 255, sr.), Roy Fuller (OL, 6-2, 250, sr.), Luke Pyle (RB, 5-11, 185, jr.), Vincent Zelisko (LB, 6-3, 220, sr.), Charlie Lyne (DB, 5-8, 155, sr.), Owen Goss (DB, 5-11, 170, jr.), Sean Kelly (DL, 6-2, 220, sr.), Hayden Waters (DL, 6-0, 230, sr.).
-- Kevin Schmit
Fri, 8/24, Hinsdale Central at Naperville Central, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 8/31, Hinsdale Central at Willowbrook, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/7, Oak Park-River Forest at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/14, Hinsdale Central at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 9/22, York at Hinsdale Central, Noon
Fri, 9/28, Hinsdale Central at Proviso West, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/5, Glenbard West at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/12, Hinsdale Central at Lyons, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/19, Hinsdale South at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.