Like last year Wheaton North plans to thrive with a short passing game.
Hopefully with a twist.
"We've got the kind of skill players to execute the short pass play," said Falcons football coach Joe Wardynski, "but they can turn it into a long play."
Despite graduating All-Area quarterback Reece Butler and their two top receivers, the Falcons still have passing potential with a deep corps of receivers and a first-year varsity quarterback John Peltz capable of producing big numbers.
It'll be a crucial element of Wheaton North's drive to the playoffs and a climb in the DuPage Valley Conference standings. With only one starter returning on defense, the experienced offense needs to jump to the forefront.
Explosive receivers Johnny Daniels, who holds a scholarship offer from Ball State, and Micah Penn combined for nearly 50 catches and 500 yards last season. Junior running back Patrick Sharp overcame injury troubles to lead the team with 500 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns.
Three linemen return in Landon Bruni, Christian Holliger and Ian Kile while Peltz offers a physical presence at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. The Falcons even have a strong kicker in Marcin Gawlak, who made 8 of 10 field goals last year.
It's clear the Falcons have the potential to score in bunches. The question is whether the defense can fill the holes left by 10 graduated starters.
Linebacker Mike Swider, second on last year's team in tackles, is the lone returning starter. Junior safety Jaylen Howze stepped up with 26 tackles last year after being brought up to varsity at the end of the season.
Beyond that the Falcons are untested. Especially tough will be the loss of a defensive line that proved dominant at times with leading tackler Montrell Williams.
If the defense gets up to speed quickly, the Falcons will be tough to beat. The program's first DVC title since 2002 is a top goal.
"I think we'll be in the mix," Wardynski said.
Coach: Joe Wardynski (fourth year, 20-13).
2010 record: 8-3, 5-2, third in DuPage Valley Conference.
Top players: Johnny Daniels (WR, 6-2, 200, sr.); Micah Penn (WR, 6-2, 185, sr.); Mike Swider (LB, 6-0, 220, sr.); John Peltz (QB, 6-2, 210, jr.); Patrick Sharp (RB, 5-9, 170, jr.); Landon Bruni (OL, 5-9, 215, sr.); Christian Holliger (OL, 6-0, 220, sr.); Ian Kile (OL, 6-3, 270, sr.); Coleton Hrgich (WR, 5-11, 170, sr.); Jaylen Howze (DB, 5-11, 170, jr.); Marcin Gawlak (K, 5-11, 170, sr.).
Fri, Aug 26 Bartlett 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 2 @ Geneva 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 9 Naperville North 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 16 @ West Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 23 Glenbard East 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 30 @ West Aurora 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 7 Naperville Central 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 14 Glenbard North 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 21 @ WW South 7:30 p.m.