As the Darien Blue Wave prepares to kickoff a new football season, there will be four senior players taking on the role of captains.

That doesn’t mean the Wave isn’t getting leadership from many other places.

“One thing that stands out for our senior class is it’s not just the four of us leading that team,” linebacker J.H. Slonieski said. “We have 20-21 seniors and all of them are great leaders and great motivators for the underclassmen. That’s one of the main things we have going for us this season.”

While the senior class as a whole leads the team, Slonieski and fellow inside linebacker Sam Wilson, along with running back Will Kirby and defensive end Will Bothwell, will be wearing the captain’s ‘C’ as the Wave attempts to regain the state championship this fall.

Darien will begin the season when the Ludlowe Falcons visit DHS at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 13.

Earning the captain’s role has been a long time coming for the four seniors.

“It’s cool looking back when we were younger, watching all the games and all those guys we would look up to,” Wilson said. “Now, we’re like those guys and it’s we’re excited to put our own stamp on the program.”

“That’s a dream come true,” Bothwell said. “From DJFL, when I first started, to playing to now being a captain. It’s a great feeling.”

“It’s an incredible honor to be a captain of such a great program which has been very successful for a while,” Kirby said. “I’m excited to lead my team in the right direction and hopefully to a state championship this year.”

Darien heads into the campaign with a veteran defense and a strong offense which features a new quarterback, Peter Graham, and a new group of receivers.

Kirby, who will lead the running game after a strong junior year, said the team has looked good so far.

“I’m feeling confident right now,” Kirby said. “We’ve had a pretty productive preseason so far and everything is going great. The D-line, O-line, offensive and defense are giving each other looks and things are falling into place.”

Defensively, Darien features linebackers Slonieski and Wilson, two of its leading tacklers last fall, along with Bothwell at DE. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg for a veteran group.

“We’ve got a lot of returning guys, and a few new guys stepping up, so we’re pretty confident,” Slonieski said. “Two new starters on the D-line and one middle linebacker, but other than that, we’re pretty much returning most guys, so we’re excited for how our defense is looking this year.”

Leading a Darien team that has gone 70-6 during the past six seasons comes with some pressure, but the Wave seniors seem to thrive with that.

“We like that pressure and it’s why we wanted to be captains and take that on,” Wilson said. “We can use that as confidence and motivation.”

“We’ve been playing for the last nine years and now, this year it’s our program to lead,” Slonieski said. “So that’s pretty exciting.”

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com

Twitter: @dstewartsports