DeKalb's Jalon Redmond beats a block to take down Lake Zurich quarterback Jack Moses during playoff action last season.
DeKalb's Jalon Redmond beats a block to take down Lake Zurich quarterback Jack Moses during playoff action last season. — Shaw Media file photo

Lake Forest

Head coach: Chuck Spagnoli (17th season, 94-75)

Last season's record: 5-5

Outlook: The Scouts pulled out a 26-23 win against Stevenson in Week 9 last season to reach the Class 6A postseason for the ninth straight season. The offense is likely to be a work in progress, but the defense should be solid from the start with Notre Dame commit Rylie Mills at defensive end and Mac Uihlein at linebacker to anchor the unit.

Lake Zurich

Head Coach: Ron Planz (1st season)

Last year’s record: 7-4

Key returners: Jack Moses (QB), Jack Dwyer (RB/LB), Bryan Sanborn (LB), Spencer Bacon (OL/DL), James Piggott (WR), Hunter Welcing (TE), Anthony Mangano (DB).

Outlook: Lake Zurich heads into the season with a new head coach and the talent to back him up. The Bears routinely produce stout defenses and this year looks to be no different. Junior linebacker Bryan Sanborn has offers from Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and others. Junior linebacker Jack Dwyer, senior lineman Spencer Bacon and senior defensive back Anthony Mangano are names to watch. Offensively, Lake Zurich is led by senior tight end Hunter Welcing, a Northwestern commit, and senior wide receiver James Piggott, who has an offer from Ball State and some Big Ten interest. Senior quarterback Jack Moses has a preferred walk-on offer at Rice and Division II offers.

Libertyville

Head Coach: Mike Jones (8th season, 46-30)

Last year’s record: 2-7

Key returners: Aidan Holmes (DL), Will Murphy (DB), Cole Fiorenza (DB), Chase Quigley (LB), Hunter Quigley (OL), Blake Ellingson (QB), Shaun Luce (RB), Ryan Wittenbrink (WR), Dylan Drumke (WR), Brian Stacy (WR), Sam Paden (WR).

Notable newcomers: Tyler Auth (OL), David Freedman (OL), Tyler Newman (LB), Chase Baczek (DL).

Outlook: The Wildcats snapped a four-season playoff streak last season with an uncharacteristic 2-7 campaign. Coach Mike Jones said that Libertyville is ready to bounce back after a disappointing season with several close losses – four of Libertyville’s seven losses were by 10 points or less. Highland Park is replaced by Carmel in Week 1, but otherwise the Libertyville schedule remains the same.

Mundelein

Head Coach: Vince DeFrancesco (1st season)

Last year’s record: 2-7

Key returners: Shawn Patrick (RB), Isaac Wellman (QB), Justin O’Connor (OL), Rudy Osornio (LB), Alex Wing (K/OLB), Joey Foreman (RB/DB), Drake Morton (LB/RB), Edder Rebollar (WR/DB), Jaxon Dennis (DL/OL), Dennis Dyachenko (DL/OL).

Notable Newcomers: Jemorrian Gordon (RB/DB), Tyler Green (DB), Cole Kirby (RB), Garrett Avis (OL), Nate Zepeda (OL/DL).

Outlook: New coach VinceDeFrancesco, who spent the last four seasons at Lincoln Park, is encouraged by the number of returning players from last season, and the varsity experience they bring as he tries to build up the program. The Mustangs will rely on junior running back Shawn Patrick, who led his team in rushing as a sophomore. DeFrancesco thinks it will be an exciting year for the Mustangs, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2004.

Stevenson

Head Coach: Brent Becker (1st season)

Last year’s record: 6-4

Key returners: Jean-Marc Etienne (RB/DB), Shane Johnson (RB/DB), Jahleel Perrin (LB/RB), Jordan Vincent (DB/RB), Jayden McFadden (WR/DB), Ean Norenberg (OL/DL), Nick Machado (OL/DL), Miles WIlliams (OL/DL), Kha’nari Williams (DL/TE).

Notable newcomers: MIkey Youkhanna (RB/LB), Brandon Youkhanna (RB/LB), Justin Hiller (QB/DB), Rishik Kancharla (WR/DB), Jake Loch (RB/LB), Danny Orgler (DL/TE), Jordan Cadichon (OL/DL), Jaiden Mojica (WR/DB).

Outlook: The Patriots return nine starters from last year’s 6-4 squad, including defensive back Jordan Vincent, an Eastern Illinois commit, and lineman Ean Norenberg, who committed to Harvard. Stevenson has a lot of size up front to block for senior tailback Jean-Marc Etienne, who rushed for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns last season. New head coach Brent Becker’s team will bested in the first two weeks by nonconference opponents Lincoln-Way East and Neuqua Valley..

Warren

Head Coach: Bryan McNulty (6th season, 34-19)

Last year’s record: 10-2

Key returners: Willis Singleton (DT), Seams Mellican (DE), Juan DeLaCruz (LB), Malachi McNeal (LB), Josh Turner (SS), Jaiden Lowery (OL), Ethan McDermott (OL), Matt Rich (OL), Derrick McLaughlin (RB), Christian Phillips (ATH), Phillip Hird (QB).

Notable newcomers: Jack Hovey (OL), Luther Thompson (WR), Tommy Matheson, Donny James (LB), Marc Davila (FS), Jaden Gregerson (CB).

Outlook: Warren is coming off its first 10-win season since 1991, and will be looking to defend its North Suburban title. The Blue Devils project as one of the top defenses in the state with DT Willis Singleton, an Iowa State recruit, DE Seams Mellican, LBs Juan DeLaCruz and Malachi McNeal and SS Josh Turner. Warren didn’t allow more than 10 points in a game during the regular season after giving up 31 to Barrington in Week 1. Offensively, the Blue Devils will need to replace 1,500 yards of rushing offense after Martin Walker’s graduation. Senior Derrick McLaughlin, who is committed to Indiana State, should fill that role. QB Phillip Hird also excelled as a sophomore last season.

Zion-Benton

Head Coach: Cristo Garza (1st season)

Last year’s record: 5-5

Key returners: Jordan Chisum (RB/DB), Stephan Watkins (WR/DB), Brian Dowdell (WR/DB), Jacob Pulliam (OL/DL).

Notable newcomers: Eric Franklin (QB), Deyonte Dowdell (WR/DB), Cullen Boroski (OL/DL).

Outlook: First-year coach CristoGarza is looking to capitalize on the Zee-Bees’ first playoff appearance since 2003, and to guide them into the top half of the North Suburban. Zion-Benton has a tough conference start with Lake Zurich, Stevenson and Warren in three of its first four conference games.

Editor's note: Waukegan did not respond to requests for information.