Some years, it's pretty easy to select one or two of the top returning teams to watch as potential favorites in the following season.
2019 isn't exactly following the norm. You can make a case for multiple teams to track this winter.
Low hanging fruit/Traditional powers
These are schools that are consistently near the top of the polls and have a track record of success:
Loyola: Why the Ramblers? Because it's Loyola and head coach John Holocek. They will simply reload once again. Later this fall, the Ramblers will bring back three returning starters on the offensive line plus RB Trevor Cabanban.
Lincoln Way East: Head coach Rob Zvonar's Griffins will always need to "reload" since they have such great overall numbers and depth. Seldom will you see a ton of underclassmen starting for Lincoln-Way East; that said, the talent level will remain as strong as ever come August. Junior four-star ranked ATH AJ Henning is a highlight name to watch in Frankfort come opening weekend.
Phillips: The Wildcats and head coach Troy McAllister will graduate a strong senior class this spring, but Phillips also has a deep and talented underclassmen group. Junior OL/DL Demerick Morris and junior DB Ronald Pledger are just to name a few names to watch this coming fall.
Homewood-Flossmoor: Head coach Craiz Buzea and the Vikings will also be in a similar situation as rival Lincoln-Way East. They both have great overall numbers and need to replace several graduated seniors. The Vikings always seem to find talent. Keep an eye on junior OL Marcus Harper II, junior QB Dominic Jones and junior S/OLB LaVoise McCoy.
Maine South: Another team that consistently fields a good product can be found in Park Ridge. Coach Dave Inserra's Hawks seem to reload just as well as any public school football program year in and year out. Of course, it also helps that one of the Midwest's top offensive linemen is back: four-star ranked Peter Skoronski for the 2019 season.
Batavia: There will be quite a few graduation losses for Batavia this spring. But the Bulldogs also welcome back the Urwiler brothers: junior RB/LB Quinn and sophomore RB/DB Trey. Batavia is a deep program with great numbers and talent.
Glenbard West: The Hilltoppers and head coach Chad Hetlet are always in state title contention mode. This program always finds a way. Keep an eye on junior OLB/S Greyson Metz for the Hitters come August.
Marist: The Redhawks will graduate several key seniors from the 2018 season, but junior four-star ranked WR Jadon Thompson along with up-and-coming freshman QB Dontrell Jackson Jr. are key names to watch in 2019.
Montini: It must be nice for Montini Catholic head coach Mike Bukovsky to welcome back two starting quarterbacks. Junior Deontae Bell and sophomore Robert Brazzile are back in the fold for the 2019 season. Keep an eye on junior WR Nate Muersch and OL Michael Banks-Wall as well. The defense brings back five starters from their 2018 Class 5A runner up squad.
Others Teams to Watch in 2019?
Barrington: The Broncos, under head coach Joe Sanchez, always reload. Keep an eye on junior DE Lukas Van Ness, junior QB Tommy Fitzpatrick and junior WR Eric Darlington Jr. this coming season.
Oak Park-River Forest: The Huskies are stacked with underclassmen talent, including sophomore .QB Jaden McGill.
Minooka: The Indians had 18 underclassmen starters in 2018 and will welcome back a ton of talent, speed and experience this fall.
Prairie Ridge: The Wolves saw their state title run end last season. But Chris Schremp's featured a ton of underclassmen starters last year and they will be stacked this year once again.
St. Rita: Could the Mustangs put together a Brother Rice-type of turnaround? It's very possible. Head coach Todd Kuska played a ton of underclassmen in 2018.
St. Charles North: The North Stars welcome back nine starters from the 2018 season and also have a nice core of current sophomores. North's lower levels are also stacked with big linemen and a plethora of talent on the rise.
Nazareth: The Class 7A state champions will need to reload-- especially on the offensive line. But the skills department (JJ McCarthy/Tyler Morris) is strong. And they also have six starters back on defense.
West Aurora: Lots of multi-year experience coming back; the 2019 Blackhawks feels a lot like the 2016 Blackhawks playoff team.
IC Catholic Prep: The Class 3A state champion Knights welcome back eight starters (two offense, six defense) including RB Kyle Franklin, who's just a sophomore.
Bishop McNamara: The Fighting Irish also bring back 10 starters (four offense, six defense) including QB Tyler Hiller and OL Isaac Ruder.
Willowbrook: The Warriors just keep winning and finding a way to get deep in Class 7A. They will be led this upcoming fall by All State QB/DB Sam Tumilty.