Scouting the Downers Grove North Trojans
Downers Grove North football coach Joe Horeni admits he threw a lot at his players last season.
This year they're catching a whole lot more.
"We changed a ton offensively and last year we didn't feel like we completely grasped it," said Horeni, who last season came to Downers North from Highland Park. "As the first few games settled in we finally started seeing what we're capable of."
Drew Cassens, more than anyone, settled in for the Trojans. The senior quarterback rushed for 1,200 yards and threw for 500 and should account for much more with an expanded playbook in his third varsity campaign.
Horeni estimates the offense ran the ball about 80 percent of the time last year, but that number should even out in the second year with this system in place.
Three offensive lineman return led by Hunter Campbell, as do receivers Sam Barbato and Henry Gates. Running back Josh Lumpkin will take pressure off Cassens in the backfield. Sophomore receiver Adam Criter is another playmaker.
"Their understanding of the offense has really helped us progress," Horeni said.
Eight starters return to the defense including the entire secondary headed by Cassens, who had 45 tackles. With Josh Reams on the line and Ryan Schindler at linebacker, the Trojans should improve upon last season's effort that featured a pair of shutouts.
The effort still left Downers North one win shy of the playoffs, a result the Trojans hope to reverse.
"We've got to win the tough ones we lost last year," Horeni said. "This group is hungry to seize the opportunities they have."
One to watch: A cross-town regular-season finale at Downers Grove South? Count us in.
Coach: Joe Horeni (second year, 4-5; fourth year overall, 19-18).
2018 record: 4-5, 2-4, fifth in West Suburban Silver.
Top players: QB-DB Drew Cassens, sr.; OL Hunter Campbell, sr.; DL Josh Reams, sr.; LB, Ryan Schindler, sr.; RB Josh Lumpkin, sr.; WR-DB Henry Gates, sr.; DB Mark Dennison, sr.; WR Sam Barbato, sr.; WR Adam Criter, so.; LB Drew Bielawski, jr.; LB Jon Werthman, sr.; DB Nathan Boris, sr.; OL Braden Moore, sr.; OL Seth Peterson, sr.
-- Kevin Schmit
Fri, Aug 30, Downers Grove North at Buffalo Grove, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 6, Addison Trail at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 13, York at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 20, Downers Grove North at Proviso West, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 27, Downers North at Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 4, Glenbard West at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 11, Downers North at Oak Park, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 18, Lyons at Downers Grove North, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 25, Downers North at Downers South, 7:30 p.m.