The Elgin football team is hoping to build on its 2010 success.
Last season the Maroons swept the St. Charles schools and won 6 regular-season games to earn their first playoff berth in eight seasons.
This year's seniors are aiming to become the first group from Elgin to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 2001-2002.
"I think it's a very strong possibility," Elgin coach Dave Bierman said. "Obviously, it's our goal every year, but these seniors don't want to be the group that doesn't make the playoffs. They don't want that monkey on their back. There's a little extra pride to keep it from ending on their watch."
The postseason charge will be led by quiet senior leader Dennis Moore (5-10, 185), an all-Upstate Eight River safety gaining college interest at that position from Mid-American Conference schools, thanks to his 4 interceptions and 44 tackles as a junior.
Also an effective ball carrier (538 yards) and return man last year, Moore will be counted on as the team's main offensive threat at running back, stepping into the role formerly held by Jordan Dean (North Central College). He is also Elgin's kicker.
However, if opponents pay Moore too much attention, they could be burned by Elgin's other athletes, of which there are many.
What senior quarterback Devin Simon (6-1, 195) lacks in experience he makes up for with mobility. He will throw from a moving pocket more often than not. Simon will also play outside linebacker on defense and could be spelled at the quarterback position occasionally by senior Gage Teschner, who will otherwise play wide receiver.
All-UEC River linebacker Elrich Keophilalay (5-9, 210) returns. A co-captain along with Moore, "Keo" could become an important secondary rushing option at fullback.
Senior running back Jake Bartelt (5-6, 160), who hasn't played since his freshman year, "has been a nice, pleasant surprise," Bierman said.
Seniors Devin Gilliam (6-0, 160) and Derek Moorman (6-2, 180) are both experienced receivers who will also see time on defense, Gilliam at cornerback, Moorman at linebacker.
The offensive line could be one of Elgin's best in a decade, led by senior Travon Hall (6-1, 202), an all-UEC River tackle entering his third varsity season. He'll be surrounded by experienced linemen like seniors Drew Bloomquist (6-1, 220), Rafael Lopez (5-10, 255) and Colton Wright (6-2, 217). They'll be joined by junior Zach Lindstrom (6-0, 230).
Senior Joe Quick (6-3, 195) and junior Mitch Poltersdorf (6-1, 190) will play tight end.
"We'll be better up front than maybe a lot of people anticipate," said Bierman, who said his team will line up in traditional formations more often than the spread. "I think we'll be able to run really well. Historically, Elgin has always had good skill but struggled to get that 1 yard on third-and-1. With this group we'd better get that yard."
Hall, previously a defensive lineman, is working at inside linebacker. He'll be flanked outside by Simon and Moorman. Jorge Zavala (5-9, 185) returns at nose guard, one of five starters returning to the defense.
A roster of 36 includes multiple athletes in dual roles, so health is of paramount importance if the Maroons are to challenge Geneva and Batavia for the title in the River Division of the Upstate Eight Conference.
"I would hope we can compete, especially if we stay healthy," Bierman said. "We possess speed, we have the ability to control the clock with a possession-type offense and we also have kids like Dennis who can break it an any time because he has a good line and a good fullback.
"It may help us if they use a spy on Dennis. Maybe if Dennis doesn't, Elgin does."