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EDGY: Top 5 sleeper teams in 2015

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EDGY: Top 5 sleeper teams in 2015

So who are the Top 5 sleeper teams to watch for in the upcoming IHSA football season?

Hinsdale South

The Hornets just missed making the @CSNPreps Preseason Top 25 Power Rankings, and will be one of the first teams in once someone drops out. Head coach Mike Barry's squad features Rivals.com's No. 1 recruit in the state in Michigan State-bound four-star defensive end Josh King (6-foot-6, 230 pounds). Hinsdale South's strength this season will be on both the offensive and defensive line. The Hornets also have experience in the back seven on defense. The offense will need to replace graduated quarterback Robby Regan (Notre Dame walk-on), but the remaining skills are solid with senior running back Marcus Curry and a deep group of receivers. Hinsdale South made it to the Class 7A quarterfinals last season, and has the potential to match or even surpass that run this fall.

Huntley

The Red Raiders and head coach John Hart will welcome back 14 starters (seven on both offense and defense) this season. Senior quarterback Anthony Binetti is a very polished thrower and runner. He leads an offense that features an experienced group of backs and receivers. The Red Raiders defense is led by senior linebacker Tim McCloyn (Illinois State). If Huntley can replace some departures on the defensive line then they have a chance to be ranked sooner, rather than later this coming season.

[MORE PREPS: CSN Preps Power Rankings - No. 5 Naperville Central]

Crete-Monee

The Warriors might just have its most talented team since the 2012 Class 6A state championship squad. Senior quarterback Clint Ratkovich will be a leader this season for Crete-Monee.  Ratkovich has been a do-it-all player for the Warriors at the varsity level over the past few seasons. He has played running back, linebacker, defensive back and quarterback. Crete-Monee head coach John Kornecki will also have an abundance of talent on both sides of the football. Keep an eye on senior wide receivers Landon Lenoir and Frank Douglas (who started at quarterback the past three seasons), senior offensive lineman Joe Ware and junior defensive back Juawan Treadwell — the younger brother of former Crete-Monee and current Ole Miss standout wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. The biggest hurdle for the Warriors could be its daunting early non-conference schedule with games against TF South, Brother Rice, Sycamore and Prairie Ridge.

Conant

The Cougars and veteran head coach Bill Modelski return 15 starters from a 4-5 team in 2014. Senior quarterback Kyle Bradley suffered an early season injury last fall and returned late in the season. He will be a key, along with senior wide receiver/defensive back Palmer Graham. Graham has a handful of DI scholarship offers as a defensive back. The Cougars defense also has experience and depth with eight starters back from last season.

Evanston

While many will look toward Maine South and New Trier in the Central Suburban South this season, do not discount the Wildkits. Evanston brings back 10 starters, including one of the state's top quarterback recruits in senior Matt Little (Western Michigan), along with senior four-star defensive tackle Naquan Jones (Michigan State) and senior wide receiver/defensive back Travion Banks (Miami Ohio). Evanston also welcomes back four starting offensive linemen this season. Keep an eye on senior wide receiver/defensive back Immanuel Woodberry.

94 Days to Kickoff: Kaneland

94 Days to Kickoff: Kaneland

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we'll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Kaneland

Head coach: Pat Ryan

Assistant coaches: Mike Thorgesen, Ryan Gierke, John Pavlak, Drew Sterkel, Matt Smith, Zack Martinelli, Ryan Noel, Mike Lotz, Anthony Mastropieri, Trevor McKeown and Alec Aurelio

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (3-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference). The Knights made the Class 5A state playoff field. They defeated Lindblom, then lost to Sterling in second round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Hinsdale South 

Aug. 31 vs Geneva 

Sept. 7 vs Rich Central 

Sept. 14 @ Sterling 

Sept. 21 vs DeKalb 

Sept. 28 @ Sycamore 

Oct. 5 @ Yorkville 

Oct. 12 vs Morris 

Oct. 19 vs Rochelle

[MORE: 95 Days to Kickoff - Waubonsie Valley]

Biggest storyline: Will the Knights leave their mark in the last season of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference?

Names to watch this season: RB Jonathan Alstott and OL/DL Drew Hahn.
 
Biggest holes to fill: The Knights will need to reload in a few key spots, especially at QB and on the O-line; however, they bring back a nice core of 11 returning starters (five offense, six defense).

EDGY's Early Take: The Knights are still in search of a new conference to call home after the 2018 season. The Northern Illinois Big 12 is in its last season under its current form. This year's Knights have a chance to get back to the state playoff field. The schedule is very tough, but this team will challenge every single week come August. 

95 Days to Kickoff: Waubonsie Valley

95 Days to Kickoff: Waubonsie Valley

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we'll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Waubonsie Valley

Head coach: Paul Murphy

Assistant coaches: Ron Griffin, Tom Baumgarnter, Chris Genslinger, Brad Caldwell, Josh Cuttone, Noel Soto, Ryan Voitik, Duane Butts and Ken Anderson

How they fared in 2017: 4-5 (4-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Waubonsie Valley failed to qualify for the IHSA playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Oak Park-River Forest

Aug. 31 vs Libertyville

Sept 7 @ Neuqua Valley

Sept. 14 @ Edwardsville

Sept. 21 vs Naperville North

Sept. 28 vs Neuqua Valley

Oct. 5 vs Prairie Ridge

Oct. 12 @ Naperville Central

Oct. 19 @ Metea Valley

[MORE: 96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs]

Biggest storyline: It's all about the schedule. Can the Warriors survive a challenging lineup --which includes playing Neuqua Valley twice-- and make the playoffs?

Names to watch this season: WR Julian Cain and DL Avante Rogers

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will have several new faces on both the offensive and defensive lines in 2018. 

EDGY's Early Take: It's not often that veteran head coach Paul Murphy and his Warriors view the playoffs from home. But that's what happened last year. They were the first Waubonsie team since 2006 to do just that. Look for the Warriors to rely on a strong group of receivers to bounce back this fall. They also feature a good group of underclassmen ready to step up. Also, they will need to get used to life in the newly-realigned DuPage Valley Conference. The 2018 schedule includes two games against big district rival Neuqua Valley and a loaded non-conference slate which includes some heavy hitters.