Several top teams are starting to be identified as we are just a mere 12 days until IHSA Kickoff 2013, yet what about teams that might not be getting as much preseason love?
Here are just a sampling of some names and teams you need to know in 2013.
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Top 5 Sleeper Teams to Watch in 2013:
Wheaton Warrenville South (4-5 in 2012) -- It's hard to believe that the Tigers would ever been on any sort of sleepers list, but that's what a 4-5 season will do for you. Wheaton Warrenville South missed a state playoff spot last season for the first time since 2002, the first under head coach Ron Muhitch. Look for the Red Grange Tigers to come back in a big way led by senior quarterback Ryan Graham and a deep and talented group of receivers on offense. The Tigers' defense also has some experience with six starters back from a year ago. Nothing comes easy, however, for South as they open up against Class 7A defending state champs Glenbard West and at Maine South before heading into DuPage Valley play.
[More: Class 7A preview]
St. Rita (4-5 in 2012) -- Yet another traditional power that you don't expect to be down for long. The Mustangs welcome back 12 starters this season (six on offense, six on defense) and includes Richards senior transfer running back Tommy Mister (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) along with senior defensive back Lamar Dawson (committed to Syracuse) plus senior Division I recruit tackle Matt Byrne (6-foot-4, 294 pounds).
So how does this summer feel compared to last summer, according to Byrne?
"I think we learned a lot from last year and everyone is on the same page. We have good team chemistry with this group."
[More: Edgy Tim's 2013 top 30, Nos. 30-16]
Lincoln-Way Central (4-5 in 2012) -- The Knights have an old/new coach in Hud Venerable. Venerable, who is athletic director at Central, coached 14 seasons at Normal Community and led the Ironmen to a state title in 2006. The Knights will need to reload a bit on defense (11 starters back, eight of whom are on offense) yet expect a well schooled and fundamentally sound team this fall. Central also moves from the Southwest Suburban Blue to the smaller enrollment Southwest Suburban Red in 2013.
Prairie Ridge (3-6 in 2012) -- The Wolves, who won the 2011 Class 6A state title, had a down season last fall. Blame various injuries (Prairie Ridge started four different quarterbacks in 2012) as a big key for the down season along with some inexperience in the lineup. In 2013? The Wolves welcome back 12 returning starters (five on offense, seven on defense) and feature senior offensive lineman Shane Evans (6-foot-4, 296 pounds) who has several scholarship offers this summer. The Fox Valley conference/area is always tough, yet the Wolves could end up being the best of the bunch in 2013 when it's all said and done.
[More: Class 6A preview]
De La Salle (4-5 in 2012) -- The Meteors have one of the most star-studded lineups in 2013 and a lot has been expected from this team since they walked into the school as freshmen. Start with one of the state's top running backs in Vanderbilt commit Mikale Wilbon (5-foot-9, 191 pounds) along with Ohio State commit and four-star rated tackle Jamarco Jones (6-foot-5, 295 pounds) and Division I recruit senior tackle Aaron Roberts (6-foot-6, 295 pounds). Senior quarterback Shelby Spence (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) is a very good athlete and the Meteors look ready for a breakout in 2013.