BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD.WYZZ) — He’s sees the progress.

And that’s why Central Catholic coach Kevin Braucht is expecting his team to take a big step forward this year. When he took over the football program at his alma mater three years ago, he had 22 players out for football.

This year the Saints boast 47 players.

“I feel like we are faster, more athletic than when I got here. Our numbers obviously are trending in the right direction,” Braucht said. “I feel like they understand the culture that we want here and looking for us to translate over to Friday nights.”

A perennial power for decades, Central Catholic won state titles in 1982, 1987, 1994 and 2008. But the Saints are looking for their first playoff berth since 2017.

“Very excited, we’re back at it. We didn’t get a full year last year and that was pretty disappointing, so we’re glad to have all our games and playoffs and things like that,” said senior Mike Mier. “I think we’re going to step it up this year for sure and I think we’re going to win a lot of games this year, for sure.”

Central Catholic hosts Pontiac in the season opener on Friday.