New coach Bryce Farquhar's first East team might be strongest up front, where the returning linemen trio of Brennan Bosch, Zachary Reyes and Jack Sharkey appear to be the Saints' tone-setters.
Bosch, who figures to join his big brother – Michigan offensive lineman Kyle Bosch – in the college ranks soon, should be a force at left tackle.
"He's definitely looking really good for us," Farquhar said. "He's played awesome so far. I can't wait to get him out there and let him do his thing."
Farquhar took a wait-and-see approach at the quarterback spot during the preseason but senior Kyle Cook impressed teammates during the summer. Junior Aiden Wright also merited an extended look.
Whoever is under center figures to identify speedy senior Morgan Flanigan as a preferred target, especially on deep routes.
"Mo's done a great job of working with his hands and his routes," Farquhar said. "Really, if you tell Mo something, he'll go out and do it. He's got such a great work ethic as far as he's very coachable. If you tell him it's a weakness, he goes out and works on it."
Two-way pillar Ramon Lopez again will factor in at running back and likely will share carries with junior Cam Canales, who also has the skill set to join Flanigan, senior Jake Asquini and junior Jack Russell in the receiving mix.
Lopez hopes to anchor the secondary at free safety, departing a linebacker corps now anchored by Parker Vidmich, Tommy Fink, Mitch Guillaume and Blake Saltsman. Nose tackle Blake Fialka is another defensive key.
While the Saints made the playoffs three of the five seasons under former coach Mike Fields – including last year – East has struggled against top competition in recent seasons, both locally and in the playoffs.
"[The players] talked about just making it past that first round hump this year, and I think they're capable of a lot more than that," Farquhar said. "We have a great group of kids that I think are capable of a lot of things. It's just executing and it's how much work they put in and how willing they are to dedicate themselves to the program."
– Jay Schwab
Coach: Bryce Farquhar (first year)
2013 record: 6-4 overall, 4-2 UEC River. Lost, 35-7, to Stevenson in first round of 8A playoffs.
Fast fact: East will go head-to-head with former Saints coach Ted Monken, who is in his first year at West Chicago, in the regular season finale.
Special teams spotlight: Strong-legged junior Nick Candre, younger brother of former East linebacker Michael Candre, should be a force for East in the punting and kicking realm.
Bottom line: East's offensive line gives the Saints a solid base, but the Saints still have less proven talent than the other Tri-Cities teams. The junior class is going to have to produce several impact contributors for the Saints to be playoff-caliber.
Memory banked: "Definitely the North game last year. I mean, we had a comeback score at the end, take it to overtime, and then going for that two-point conversion to tie it up, we had to go for it twice, and just listening to the coaches, how calm they were, and then going out there and actually doing it twice, it was crazy. And to watch Mitch Munroe of all people catch it, that was great. It's one thing I'll always remember." – Ramon Lopez, senior running back/safety
Aug. 29 vs. South Elgin 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Jacobs 7:15 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Elgin 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 vs. Batavia 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Streamwood (Memorial Stadium) 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 vs. Geneva 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 vs. Larkin 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 at St. Charles North 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 24 at West Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Marquee matchup: at St. Charles North, Oct. 17. Former East coach Mike Fields went a perfect 5-0 against North, a tradition new coach Bryce Farquhar would love to continue.
Aug. 31 South Elgin W, 35-27
Sept. 6 Jacobs W, 41-26
Sept. 13 St. Charles North W, 28-21
Sept. 20 Neuqua Valley L, 54-28
Sept. 27 Elgin W, 42-16
Oct. 4 Geneva L, 35-21
Oct. 11 Streamwood W, 42-27
Oct. 18 Batavia L, 47-14
Oct. 25 Larkin W, 55-12
Nov. 2 Stevenson L, 35-7