CHILLICOTHE, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The IVC Grey Ghosts were a win shy of being playoff eligible last fall.

They want to be back in the playoffs this season and they believe key returners will lead the way. Two-way stars David Russell, Aidan Fulton and Michael Conklin lead the way for Grey Ghosts who have big numbers in their preseason training camp.

Coach Tim Heinz says there are 95 players out for football at IVC and that’s “about 30 players more than normal.” He has 35 freshman playing football.

But he’s most excited about the veterans he has on the back end of his defense.

“We were young in the (defensive) backfield last year. A lot of first-year starters,”” Heinz said. “We had a couple of games with COVID and put some young kids in there. They are doing a lot better job. They’ve gelled well and we are doing well right now.”

IVC’s spread offense might be what the program has been noted for recently but the Grey Ghosts defensive may be a difference-maker this fall.

“We have lots of kids coming back defensively, our entire secondary except one safety,” said Conklin, a cornerback. “That was our weakness last year. We’re figuring it out and we’ll be good this year.”

IVC opens the season at 2021 playoff team Paxton-Buckley-Loda on Aug., 26.