Super 25 countdown: No. 8 Downers North

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Don’t look now, but one of the state’s toughest football conferences — the West Suburban Silver — got a little deeper. Downers Grove North, which won the Class 8A state title in 2004 and reached the 7A quarterfinals in 2008, then fell on hard times. The Trojans won five games total the next three seasons before making a surprise run to the 7A quarterfinals last fall after a 5-4 regular season. “I think we’re definitely excited to be bringing the program back to where it is,” said junior quarterback David Edwards, who has scholarship offers from Illinois, Indiana and Vanderbilt. “It all started with our seniors. Last year’s biggest difference, we had unbelievable seniors. The same this year too.” “Even in those three years we weren’t in the playoffs, I had great young men,” said coach John Wander, who noted that the 2010 and ’11 clubs led in most of their games but “we didn’t finish.” The Trojans, who are No. 8 in the Sun-Times preseason Super 25, had the talent to finish in the playoffs last year. They upset 9-0 Batavia in their opener, eliminated 8-2 Thornton in the second round and lost just 26-24 to 11-1 Benet in the quarterfinals. There’s plenty of experience back from that club, led by Edwards and a quartet of three-varsity players: defensive end/receiver Vontae Diggs, receiver Richard Olekanma, defensive tackle Joe Hill and linebacker Dan Izewski. Diggs and Olekanma both have committed to Toledo. Edwards is a 6-7, 215-pounder who accounted for about 1,130 yards of total offense and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore when, he said, “I was still learning on the fly.” “I think he grew another inch and put on about 19 pounds,” Wander said. “You don’t find many 6-7 split back veer quarterbacks with the ability to throw the ball.” Two other players to watch on that side of the ball are running backs Kyle Leto, who had 760 yards and seven touchdowns last year, and Charles Creamer. “Kyle is going to be a huge player for us this year,” Edwards said. “His speed, his whole [ability] to find a seam and cut is very cool to watch in practice.” Another nice twist, according to Wander, is the Trojans don’t have to adjust their tactics based on the opponent. “We have the capability on first-and-10 to do anything we want and not let the defense decide what we do,” he said. Something else Wander likes: “the camaraderie of this group. I live close to the school. If I take my kids for a walkon Sunday, [I can see] there’s 30 of them playing football at school.” And playing it very well, just like the old days for Downers North.

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