There are so many variables when trying to put together a ranking of teams that haven’t played a snap yet.

Obviously, past success has a lot to do with how teams are perceived heading into the season. And there’s a reason for that.

This exercise almost always nets a certain amount of head-scratching when you look back after the season has revealed all of its secrets.

But more often than not, there’s a lot of things that makes sense. Every member of last year’s preseason Top 10 won at least one playoff game. No. 3 Loyola and No. 4 Nazareth both won state titles.

Whirlwind turnarounds experienced by Brother Rice (Class 8A finalist) don’t happen every year. (Although Rice did appear in last year’s preseason Top 25 at No. 22), the cream usually rises to the top and more often than not usually stays there.

That’s not to say that there won’t be some surprise teams lurking out there waiting to make themselves known. And that’s what makes it all so fun.

01 NR Lincoln-Way East (12-1)
Yes, the Griffins lost a ton to graduation. But the roster always seems to replenish itself and if a healthy AJ Henning is a full go, look out.
02 NR East St. Louis (9-3)
The Flyers very well might not 'play up' in a higher classification this season, but they more than have the talent to do so with multiple Division I recruits dotting the roster.
03 NR Maine South (10-2)
The Hawks always seem to be in the mix, no matter the losses to graduation. This year’s version certainly has a great building block to start with offensive lineman Peter Skoronski.
04 NR Loyola (11-3)
The Ramblers were senior dominated last season, but past history provides obvious clues that the program simply knows how to get it done when it comes to crunch time.
05 NR Phillips (9-3)
As is their custom, we won’t really know what Phillips is earlier in the year with two out of state opponents to start the season. But there’s no questioning the high caliber talent on the roster.
06 NR Marist (11-2)
It’s logical to think the Redhawks might regress a little bit after taking a big leap forward, but any team that possesses a talent like Illinois-bound wide receiver Jadon Thompson shouldn’t be discounted too far.
07 NR Richards (12-1)
It’s safe to say that the the Bulldogs are back as several years of strong classes may culminate behind the running talents of Leshon Williams, who is headed to Iowa.
08 NR Batavia (12-1)
It is hard to bet against a team that has averaged 10 wins a season over the last five years. And when you add in the return of the Urwiler brothers, Quinn and Trey, all the better.
09 NR Minooka (7-3)
The Indians didn’t win a playoff game last season, but when you consider they have 18 starters returning they become hard to ignore. Jake Shipla is a name to know.
10 NR Nazareth (13-1)
Did the Roadrunners lose nearly all of the guys in the trenches from a year ago? Yep. But when you return the state’s top quarterback in JJ McCarthy with a program of this pedigree, this is probably too low.
11 NR Homewood-Flossmoor (10-2)
There’s a lot of question marks in Vikings camp. But year-to-year this is a program that always seems to have the depth in place to reload rather than rebuild.
12 NR Glenbard West (8-3)
The Hitters were gaining momentum in the second half of the season look for that to carry over into 2019 as one of the more consistent programs you’ll find.
13 NR Montini (11-2)
Do rotating quarterbacks really work? The Broncos certainly have the components to make it happen with both ends of last year’s rotation returning.
14 NR Barrington (7-2)
The Broncos are another program that always seems to reload rather than rebuild. With several key skill players returning such as quarterback Tommy Fitzpatrick they will likely have a leg up to start.
15 NR St. Charles North (10-4)
The Stars are building something pretty special in St. Charles and while some key cogs have departed it is becoming a program you can rely on for success.
16 NR Mount Carmel (11-2)
Year one of the Jordan Lynch regime can certainly be counted as a success, but one look at a beastly Caravan schedule will make that success challenging to sustain.
17 NR Prairie Ridge (8-3)
The massive win streak came to an end last season, but in the process many underclassmen took the opportunity and ran with it. They are primed for another big run.
18 NR Oak Park-River Forest (8-3)
The Huskies are seemingly one of the forgotten solid programs in the West Suburban, junior quarterback Jaden McGill leads a pack of talented players that will likely change that.
19 NR Cary-Grove (14-0)
The Trojans scored over 500 points last season and lost a fair amount of that high octane attack to graduation, but Blake Skol returns as a 20-touchdown scorer.
20 NR Bolingbrook (7-3)
The Raiders lost several Division I caliber players, but they still have a few more remaining in a program that is typically steeped in elite talent.
21 NR Crete-Monee (10-4)
The reshaped Southland Conference should allow the Warriors to flex their muscles early and often this season.
22 NR St. Rita (3-6)
The Mustangs will be looking for a Brother Rice-like turnaround in 2019 after a rough 2018 campaign where talented underclassmen hopefully worked out the kinks. If they get in the playoffs with a likely move down to Class 5A, look out.
23 NR Willowbrook (11-1)
Eventually, Willowbrook will have to be removed from flying below the proverbial radar. It might be this year as quarterback Sam Tumilty leads the charge.
24 NR West Aurora (9-2)
The move to a tougher Southwest Prairie Conference will come with some peril. But an experienced crew led by monster defensive lineman Denver Warren have the tools to do damage.
25 NR IC Catholic (14-0)
The relatively small roster of the Knights requires that underclassmen contribute. As such, the roster is never entirely barren of experience. Oh, and Kyle Franklin is back too.