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: Naperville Central
Head coach: Mike Stein
Assistant Coaches: Mike Ulreich: (DC/Inside LB), Tim Boecker (DB) Marc Anderson (DB), Adam Pucylowski (Outside LB), Eric Novak (DL), Pat Watson (OC/OL), Phil Allen (OL), Ryan Clifford (TE/H-backs), Adam Freed (RB), Chad Bradley (QB), Josh McLeod (WR) and Kofi Hughes (WR)
How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (7-1 DuPage Valley Conference). Naperville Central made the 8A state playoff field and defeated West Aurora and Homewood-Flossmoor. In the quarterfinal round, they lost to Maine South.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 24 vs Hinsdale Central
Aug. 31 @ Lincoln-Way East
Sept. 7 vs Naperville North
Sept. 14 @ St. Matthews (Trinity) Kentucky
Sept. 21 @ Metea Valley
Sept. 28 vs Naperville North at NCC
Oct. 5 vs Neuqua Valley
Oct. 12 vs Waubonsie Valley
Oct. 19 @ Cary-Grove
[MORE: 12 Days to Kickoff - Hinsdale Central]
Biggest storyline: The schedule. Can the Redhawks survive a grueling regular season slate and go deep in the Class 8A playoffs?
Names to watch this season: QB Payton Thorne (Western Michigan) and OG Luke Hallstrom (Air Force)
Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will need to reload upfront on both the offensive and defensive line this fall.
EDGY's Early Take: Welcome to the new-look DuPage Valley, Naperville Central fans. The Redhawks will face a stiff test for all nine weeks of the regular season. It includes back-to-back games against fellow Class 8A state title contenders right out of the gate: Hinsdale Central and Lincoln-Way East. But Naperville Central features one of the state's top quarterbacks in senior Payton Thorne. He has capable targets in senior WR Cade McDonald and senior TE Jared Suchevits. As for the defense, they'll feature senior DB Jack Jopes along with senior LB Matt Oliver. A major plus to help Central's cause: they always have a deep roster and strong overall program numbers year in and year out.