The Drive is back on Comcast SportsNet and has set up shop in Frankfort, Illinois.
The Lincoln-Way East Griffins enter the 2016 season in a unique position. Following the closing of nearby Lincoln-Way North, Rob Zvonar's group has inherited a number of players from a Phoenix team that went 11-1 a year ago. That's in addition to his group which went 8-3 and advanced to the second round of the IHSA playoffs last season.
CSN will follow their journey with weekly features, write-ups and episodes on our High School Lites show, airing Friday nights in the fall.
The Griffins are CSN's eighth team to appear on Drive. In the seven seasons prior, teams have gone 73-18 (an .802 win percentage), won three state titles (in 2010, 2011 and 2014) and won a combined 25 playoff games.
Here's a look back at how each Drive team fared and the legacy Lincoln-Way East will look to add to:
2009: Mount Carmel Caravan (8-4, lost in 8A quarterfinals)
A year after Jordan Lynch led Frank Lenti's team to the state semifinals, Milton Greer and Denzel Thompson formed one of the state's most lethal running attacks. The pair, combined with quarterback Chris Sujka, rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 37 touchdowns. Greer, a Miami (OH) recruit, was bottled up for just 76 yards and a score in the Caravan's 24-7 loss to the Loyola Ramblers in the quarterfinals.
2010: Maine South Red Hawks (12-2, won 8A state title)
The legend of Matt Alviti began as the Hawks started the season in an 0-2 hole before rattling off ten straight wins their way to a three-peat in Park Ridge. The sophomore developed his passing skills while teaming up in the backfield with 5-foot-4 running back Paul Preston, who scored twice and added 145 yards in the team's state title game victory over Mount Carmel. The eventual Northwestern-bound Alviti also scored twice, once through the air and another on the ground, and received usual great protection from the likes of captains Victor Nelson, Frank Colletti and Sean Sullivan on the offensive line. Dave Inserra's Red Hawks are the last team to win the state's largest class title three straight years.
2011: Montini Catholic Broncos (12-2, won 5A state title)
Where to begin with Jordan Westerkamp? The 6-foot-1 wide receiver finished his historic career with a 12-catch, 353-yard, five-touchdown performance in the Broncos' 70-45 state title victory over Joliet Catholic. It was the perfect ending to his illustrious season in which he broke numerous state records, including 235 career receptions, 4,618 yards and 68 touchdowns. The Nebraska-bound wide receiver accumulated 90 of those receptions, 1,695 of those yards and 29 of those touchdowns as a senior. It made things easy for quarterback John Rhode and brothers Anthony (WR) and Dimitri (RB) Taylor, both of whom also played collegiately. Jaleel Johnson played both ways on the line, earning himself a scholarship to Iowa. It was Chris Andriano's and the Broncos' third straight state title, and they'd complete a four-peat the following season.
2012: Joliet Catholic Hilltoppers (8-5, lost in 5A semifinals)
Southern California commitment Ty Issac rushed for more than 1,500 rushing yards and amassed 25 total touchdowns despite missing time with a shoulder injury. Dan Sharp's Hilltoppers earned their fifteenth consectuive IHSA playoff berth and advanced to the semifinals against Montini. In a rematch of the previous year's state title game, Isaac rushed for 277 yards and three touchdowns, including a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. But the Broncos came back and scored the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining, ending the Hilltoppers' season and Isaac's incredible high school career.
2013: Stevenson Patriots (10-3, lost in 8A semifinals)
A relatively young but talented group had state-title aspirations under head coach Bill McNamara, but the Patriots hit some early bumps in the road. They quickly righted the ship after an 0-2 start, reeling off seven straight wins to earn a conference title, led by quarterback Willie Bourbon and wide receivers Cameron Green (Northwestern) and Matt Morrissey (Michigan State). The Patriots defense hit its stride in impressive playoff wins over Glenbard North and Barrington, setting up a matchup with top-ranked Loyola in the semifinals. A back-and-forth affair saw the Ramblers pull within a point late in the fourth quarter; Loyola opted to go for two and the win, which they did successfully. The Patriots brought back a host of talent the following season and earned the 8A title, their first in program history.
2014: Providence Catholic Celtics (13-1, won 7A state title)
Mark Coglianese's Celtics were facing one of the toughest schedules in the country in 2014. Good thing they had Notre Dame-bound wide receiver Miles Boykin around. The eventual Player of the Year was every bit as good as advertised, finishing with 65 receptions, 1,035 yards and 19 touchdown receptions. And he did all that while also missing three games due to injury. Behind the superb play of quarterback Justin Hunniford, the Celtics went 8-1, earned a share of the CCL Blue for the first time in program history, and breezed through the competition on their way to the state title game, where undefeated Cary-Grove awaited. But sophomore running back Richie Warfield made sure to send home his seniors with some hardware, scoring four touchdowns on the ground in the Celtics' 31-28 victory.
2015: Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings (10-2, lost in 8A quarterfinals)
Team captain and quarterback Bryce Gray led one of the state's most lethal offenses in recent memory. The Vikings averaged 43 points per game, twin running backs Deante and Devonte Harley-Hampton combined for more than 3,000 yards and 49 touchdowns. Wisconsin-bound wide receiver Kendric Pryor averaged 26.2 yards per reception. The defense, led by seniors Percy Walters and Tyler Newkirk, allowed just 73 points all regular season. But when the state's top two teams - H-F and Loyola - met in the quarterfinals, the Vikings came up just short against a daunting Ramblers defense in a 27-21 loss.