Having graduated program mainstays such as Kai Libby, Sam Cote and Luke Thorson, Wheaton Academy coach Ben Wilson admits returning no offensive starters is "a little bit of a shock."
What can the Warriors do but get better day by day?
"We feel like we're pretty talented. The main difference between this year and last year is that we just don't have experience," said Wilson, who led Wheaton Academy to the Class 5A playoffs in 2009 and despite a 5-4 record in 2010 lacked the playoff points for a repeat trip.
"We're excited about our talent, and we hope our team can grow up quickly during our first two nonconference games and be ready for the Suburban Christian Conference in Week 3."
Shifted to the pounding SCC Blue from the Gold, with Marmion and Marian Central replacing Immaculate Conception and Guerin on the schedule, will be a challenge.
Fielding just six seniors on the varsity roster of 32, including returning safety Kevin Mann junior linebacker Peter Ferrill, last year's leading tackler with 62, is the only other returning starter most of the Warriors will gain valuable reps for down the road.
"It's going to make us better as a program as a whole," Wilson said.
Junior quarterback Nate Martinez assumes control of Wheaton Academy's spread offense. He played in four varsity games last year and takes over behind a line that includes senior Trey Spurgeon and Ferrill, who's among several two-way players.
Wilson likes Martinez's arm but he'll also run the ball alongside backs John Mark Wiersema and Drew Decker, kid brother of last year's slinging quarterback, Tommy. Senior Isaiah Rosas' 23 yards rushing tops the lettermen.
Plenty young, plenty green. Still, given the quick success under Wilson it's best to keep the faith.
"There are just so many unknowns with such a young team," he said, "but we just want to win each day, take each day as it comes and just honor God by the way we play."
Coach: Ben Wilson (fifth year, 17-21).
2010 record: 5-4, 3-2, third in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division.
Top players: Drew Decker (WR-DB, 5-11, 155, sr.), Peter Ferrill (C-LB, 6-1, 200, jr.), Matt Lindsay (WR-LB, 6-2, 185, jr.), Kevin Mann (WR-DB, 6-1, 175, sr.), Nate Martinez (QB, 6-1, 175, jr.), Trey Spurgeon (OL-LB, 6-2, 195, sr., John Mark Wiersema (RB-LB, 5-9, 165, jr.).
Fri, Aug 26 @ Westminster (Mo.) 5 p.m.
Fri, Sep 2 Byron 7 p.m.
Fri, Sep 9 St. Edward 7 p.m.
Fri, Sep 16 @ St. Francis 7 p.m.
Fri, Sep 23 Chicago Christian 7 p.m.
Sat, Oct 1 @ Marmion 1 p.m.
Sat, Oct 8 Marian Central 3 p.m.
Fri, Oct 14 @ Aurora Central 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 21 @ Montini 7:30 p.m.