Behind returning quarterback Brian Owens, there are few doubts entering the season about Hinsdale Central’s ability to score points.
Owens has tantalizing targets such as Ian Bunting and the running game is expected to be revived with senior Jack Adams or junior Ben Stefani.
But if the Red Devils are to challenge West Suburban Silver favorite Glenbard West, finding out how the defense can play will be a goal before the two teams meet Sept. 14 in Hinsdale.
Senior linebacker Andrew Pyle returns to anchor the defense after leading the unit last season with 84 tackles. The Devils’ next leading returning tackler is Peter Nelson, with 26.
“(Pyle) is the leader on defense,” Hinsdale coach Rich Tarka said. “He makes all the checks. He makes all the calls. He’s the first one to recognize what formations (are showing) and gets us where we want to be. He has made tremendous strides and has done a better job of reading his keys.”
The Hinsdale resident is one of the nicest kids off the field, but a beast on it at 6-foot-2, 209 pounds. He carried the ball a few times on offense last season when the Devils featured a revolving door at running back after an early season injury to Teddy Kwasigroch, who will play free safety this season.
“(Pyle) has done really well,” Tarka said. “Obviously, he works like a horse in the offseason.”
Pyle ran track and field to prepare for the football season. Projected left tackle Nick Piker is one of the school’s top returning throwers (discus and shot put).
Pyle will have help in the linebacking corps, which is one of Central’s major strengths this season. Senior Jack McGann has made the move from defensive lineman to linebacker, while senior Chris Miller is expected to see action at linebacker.
One of the top newcomers to the team is junior linebacker Jacob White, who came up for last year’s playoffs from the sophomore team and made occasional appearances on special teams.
“He’s very good. He’s one of the best players on the sophomores,” White said.
The defense is boosted by Adams as a strong safety. With defensive coordinator Tom Dorrance, the defense gives offenses multiple looks, usually with three linemen.
“I was very impressed with the defense in (Saturday’s) scrimmage,” Tarka said. “We ran our No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense. We had a hard time, which is encouraging.”