Don't look for Maine South to make another serious bid for a state championship in 2013. Or Loyola. Or Lincoln-Way East. Or Lemont. Or Joliet Catholic.
Between the five of them, they return only two legitimate Division I prospects--Lincoln-Way East center Nick Allegretti and Joliet Catholic tackle J.B. Butler.
Maine South, which has won three state titles and is 61-4 over the last five years, will be in what is being described as "a total rebuilt on both sides of the ball."
"We're looking for leaders and football players," coach Dave Inserra said.
The Hawks also are looking for a quarterback, something they have had in abundance in the last decade. But who will succeed recent All-Staters Sean Price, Tyler Knight, Charlie Goro, Tyler Benz and Matt Alviti?
"It's wide open," said offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss, who hopes either senior Alec Basso, junior Spencer Malam or sophomore Brian Collis will develop into the next star at the Park Ridge school.
Meanwhile, defending state champions Mount Carmel (8A), Glenbard West (7A), Crete-Monee (6A), Montini (5A) and Aurora Christian (3A) return the caliber of talent necessary to make another drive for a championship.
Other teams that figure to contend are Glenbard North, Kaneland, Bolingbrook and St. Rita, which figures to get a big boost from quarterbackrunning back Tommy Mister, a highly touted Division I recruit who transferred from Richards.
Let's look at the major contenders:
MOUNT CARMEL: What else does Frank Lenti have left to accomplish? The winningest coach in state history is 326-59 in 29 years with 10 state championships. Returning from last year's 13-1 kingpin will be running back Matt Domer, who rushed for 1,290 yards and 20 touchdowns, running back Jimmy Mickens and defensive linemen Enoch Smith and Steve Richardson. Will senior Marko Boricich step up to replace Don Butkus at quarterback?
GLENBARD WEST: Coach Chad Hetlet, who is 59-5 in the last five years, has a solid nucleus returning from last year's 14-0 powerhouse. Headliners are running back Scott Andrews, who rushed for 1,250 yards and 19 touchdowns, defensive back Hayden Carlson, running back Devante Toney, 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive tackle Eric Shute, wide receiver Luke Domask, kicker Hayden Lekacz and running back Jarmon Kindle-Joyner. Senior Drew Vogg figures to be the starting quarterback.
GLENBARD NORTH: Any team with running back Justin Jackson has to be considered a threat to contend for the state title. Last year, Jackson rushed for 2,539 yards and 35 touchdowns as coach Ryan Wilkens' team went 12-2 and finished second in Class 8A.
CRETE-MONEE: The Warriors are looking for a new coach after Jerry Verde resigned to succeed his mentor Dave Mattio as head coach at Marian Catholic. Also gone are the stars of last year's 14-0 state championship team--wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, quarterback Marcus Terrell and wide receiver Lance Lenoir.
But Verde didn't leave the cupboard bare. The headliner is linebacker Nyles Morgan, one of the top prospects in the nation. Other standouts are senior running backs DeShaun Smith and Trevor Smith, senior linebacker Jonathan Draper, junior strong safety Omari Stringer and 6-foot-5, 234-pound junior defensive end Chris Slayton, one of the most promising prospects in the class of 2014.
MONTINI: Can coach Chris Andriano win a fifth state title in a row? The only milestone he hasn't accomplished is an unbeaten season. His last three state champions were 12-2. In 2009, his team finished 10-4. He also won in 2004 with a 13-1 team. Could this be the year to go 14-0?
Andriano will build his 2013 squad around quarterbacks Alex Wills and James Barron, linebacker Mike Maduko, wide receiver Tyler Tumpane, defensive lineman Edgar Ruano and 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end Dylan Thompson, one of the leading prospects in the state. Wills, a transfer from Wheaton Warrenville South, beat out Barron for the starting QB job last season and passed for over 1,726 yards and 22 touchdowns.
If that isn't enough, Andriano recently welcomed one of the top prospects in the class of 2013, 6-foot-2, 225-pound defensive end Nile Sykes, a transfer from Oak Park. Sykes has scholarship offers from Illinois, Purdue, Northern Illinois and Toledo and has interest from Northwestern, Indiana, Iowa and Arizona State.
Sykes, who grew up in Maywood, has moved with his family from Oak Park to Aurora and is expected to be eligible for the 2013 season. Last year, he missed the first five games after breaking his right foot in an intrasquad scrimmage a week before the season opener.
AURORA CHRISTIAN: Coach Don Beebe is seeking a third state title in a row. Junior quarterback Austin Bray is the successor to Anthony Maddie and Ryan McQuade, who quided Aurora Christian to 13-1 records in 2011 and 2012. Also look for senior wide receiver Noah Roberts, junior kicker Trevor Hills and senior running back Legend Smith.
BOLINGBROOK: Can coach John Ivlow replace Illinois-bound quarterback Aaron Bailey? He has plenty of talent on hand, including highly recruited cornerback Parrker Westphal, sophomore linebacker Tuf Borland, junior quarterback Quincy Woods and the Huff brothers, senior running back Jaden and junior defensive backs Jacob and Julian.
ST. RITA: Mister, who has scholarship offers from Illinois, Notre Dame and Indiana, is a very athletic dual threat quarterback who could turn the Mustangs from a 6-6 team to a state champion in one year. Coach Todd Kuska already has five Division I players on his roster--defensive end Eddie Randle, defensive back Lamar Dawson, tackle Matt Byrne and wide receivers Malik Space and Julian Crum. Tyree Lee and D.J. Miles are promising running backs.
KANELAND: Coach Tom Fedderly is 12-1, 12-1 and 10-1 in the last three years. With quarterback Drew David returning for his third season, the Knights should contend again. David has passed for nearly 6,000 yards and 65 touchdowns in the last two years. He gets able support from running back Jesse Balluff and wide receiver Dylan Nauert.
Other schools that figure to contend for top 20 status and go deep into the state playoff are Stevenson, Providence, Batavia, Notre Dame, Downers Grove North, Benet, Elk Grove, Thornton, Notre Dame, North Chicago, Bloom, Fenwick and St. Patrick.