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