Hinsdale Central missed the football playoffs last season for the first time since 2000.
Seems like the perfect time to start a new era.
Rich Tarka, the Red Devils' receivers coach last year, was promoted to head coach in the off-season when Mike DiMatteo resigned after five years at the helm. The transition has been a smooth one as Hinsdale Central seeks a quick return to the postseason.
"I was familiar with the community and the kids, and that made the transition a little easier," Tarka said. "They're just so coachable right now."
Tom Garvin, Nick Sellinger and Ryan Kelleher return at receiver after combining for 45 catches for 600 yards. Two quarterbacks with limited experience from last season, Danny Callahan and Brian Owens, are both capable of moving the chains in the passing game.
The Red Devils will lean on a solid offensive line that features Ryan Callen, who is weighing Mid-American Conference offers, and Michael Pircon. Sophomore lineman Brian Allen, a standout wrestler, will contribute on both sides of the ball.
Four running backs Andrew Pyle, Jack Adams, Teddy Kawsigroch and T.J. Sally bring depth to the backfield and add to the number of diverse options in the offense.
"I have a lot of confidence that we'll score points," Tarka said.
Although the defense returns only Pyle as a starter at linebacker, Tarka is confident the unit can be successful. Linebacker Mike Fikaris is healthy after an injury-riddled junior year and safeties Matt Helsley and Adams lead the secondary.
"I think we'll be very good defensively," Tarka said. "I'm not really concerned about our inexperience."
With the high-powered offenses in the West Suburban Silver, the Red Devils' defense will need to hold up if they hope to return to the playoffs.
"We've been improving every day," Tarka said. "They just haven't been game-tested yet."
Coach: Rich Tarka (first year).
2010 record: 4-5, 2-4, fifth in West Suburban Silver.
Top players: Ryan Callen (OL, 6-5, 271, sr.); Brian Allen (DL-OL, 6-2, 258, so.); Andrew Pyle (LB-RB, 6-2, 200, jr.); Danny Callahan (QB, 6-0, 181, sr.); Brian Owens (QB, 6-2, 168, jr.); Tom Garvin (WR, 6-4, 202, sr.); Nick Sellinger (WR, 5-10, 160, sr.); Ryan Kelleher (WR, 5-11, 165, sr.); Michael Pircon (OL, 6-0, 252, sr.); Mike Fikaris (LB, 6-3, 210, sr.); Matt Helsley (DB, 6-0, 181, sr.); Jack Adams (RB-DB, 5-9, 175, jr.); Peter Nelson (DL, 5-9, 262, jr.); Teddy Kwasigroch (RB, 6-0, 200, jr.).
Fri, Aug 26 @ St. Charles N. 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 2 Leyden 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Sep 9 Proviso West 7:30 p.m.
Sat, Sep 17 @ Glenbard West 1:30 p.m.
Sat, Sep 24 Lyons Township noon
Fri, Sep 30 @ Hinsdale South 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 7 @ Oak Park 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 14 Downers North 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 21 @ York 7:30 p.m.