Top area teams: Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, Wheaton Warrenville South, Hinsdale Central, Naperville Central, Waubonsie Valley, Hinsdale South, York, Metea Valley, Wheaton North.
Top athletes:Addison Trail: Matt Piotrowski, jr., Dan Winterrose, sr.; Benet: Jack Corrigan, sr., Frank Ferconi, jr., Brock Jameson, sr., Bryson Vargas, sr.; Downers Grove North: Mike Rosinia, sr., MJ Thompson, jr.; Downers Grove South: Jon Artus, sr., Mark Kasanoff, jr., Casey Stuth, sr.; Fenton: Rishi Amin, sr., Oliver Dobon, sr., Sebastian Dobon, soph., Andrew Kottra, sr.; Glenbard East: Danny Carlson, sr., Greg Ludwig, sr.; Glenbard North: Nick Brady, fr., Guy Marino, sr., Kyle Tintera, fr.; Glenbard South: Russell Matos, fr., Blake Ryan, sr., Michael Wittenberg, soph.; Glenbard West: Michael Lambke, sr., Will Hanson, jr.; Hinsdale Central: Tom Olson, jr., David Whinery, sr., Jeff Yoo, jr.; Hinsdale South: David Basa, sr., Danny Ormiston, sr., Matt Reschke, sr.; Immaculate Conception: Anthony Clementi, soph., Patrick Headley, sr., Frank Vasquez, jr.; Lake Park: Chris Guzik, jr., Daren Hooper, sr., Joe Pomahac, sr.; Lisle: Connor Dielat, jr., David Hannan, sr., Colin Hubner, jr.; Metea Valley: Jeremy Forbes, jr., Matt Marsh, sr., Dayne Nelson, jr.; Montini: Seth Maack, sr., Ryan Mullins, jr., Tommy Scalamara, sr.; Naperville North: Michael Doherty, jr., Nick Harris, sr., Braden Klaisle, sr., Raymond Knoll, sr., Sean McDonnell, sr.; Naperville Central: Jack Hawes, sr., David Gizzi, jr., Eddie Lieser, jr., Peter Mandich, sr.; Neuqua Valley: Ian Nebendahl, sr., Jason Roach, sr., Nick Rousches, sr.; St. Francis: Tony Wodzinski, sr.; Timothy Christian: Caleb Funke, sr., Michael Karpman, sr., Chris Szandzik, sr.; Waubonsie Valley: Tate Anderson, jr., Eric Copeland, sr., Andrew Heinen, sr., Jason Marrs, jr., Zach Mayer, jr.; West Chicago: Doug Browning, sr., Dino Parducci, jr., Nick Tomic, jr.; Wheaton Academy: Danny Gryfinski, sr., Kenneth Mill, sr., Zack Spear, soph.; Wheaton North: Jon Shadid, sr., Ben Shadid, soph., Michael Suazo, soph., Matt Winkelmann, soph.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Bailey Dahlquist, soph., Will Kelly, soph., Colin McCaffrey, jr.; Willowbrook: Mark Fratto, jr., Sean Keefe, jr., Mike Malito, jr.; York: Adam Gracik, sr., Kyle Kopinski, sr., Tanner Obal, sr., Joe Wark, sr.
Outlook: It was a whirlwind summer for four-year Naperville North standout Knoll. After blistering the Links of Carillon with a school-record 8-under-par 64 to help the Huskies downstate last fall, Knoll was a man possessed after the school year ended. Knoll was 3-under during three days to win the Illinois junior state amateur and also won a national tournament in Michigan as well as capturing the low score of the sectional qualifier for the USGA junior national. Knoll, however, has only one focus as the boys golf season begins its second week. "In high school it's always about the team," Knoll said. "The No. 1 goal is to get downstate as a team. I'm trying to take it one step at a time."
"I'm just lucky to have (Knoll)," Naperville North coach Ryan Hantak said. "I'm going to enjoy every minute of his senior year."
There is a near-virtual consensus among area coaches that Naperville North and defending Class 3A runner-up Lyons Twp. are the benchmark programs in the western suburbs this fall. "You better bring your game to hang with those guys," Benet coach Dan Nagis said. The two schools locked horns at the season-opening Bob Sterr (Naperville Central) Invitational on Monday -- Knoll was the medalist with a 3-under 69 -- with Lyons prevailing on a fifth-card tiebreaker. Naperville North, which swept its two postseason tournaments last fall, seeks a fourth consecutive conference championship. In addition to Knoll, who chose Iowa over similar offers from conference rivals Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin, the Huskies welcome back state veterans Doherty, McDonnell and Klaisle.
"We just kind of do our thing," Hantak said of the Huskies' unrivaled tradition in the area. "We have high goals. (The kids) don't take things for granted."
In the opening week of the season, the Huskies were hardly the only local program making its presence felt. Benet won tournaments on consecutive days, and Neuqua Valley was lights out in the Peoria area with a sizzling 3-under 285 collective effort to win the prestigious Limestone tournament by over 20 shots.
Naperville Cenral coach Barry Baldwin is as optimistic since Sterr guided the Redhawks to the Class AA state tournament in 2002. "I think this is the year we give (Naperville) North a run for their money (in the DuPage Valley Conference)," said Baldwin, who has Mandich, a returning at-large state qualifier, to anchor his squad. "I expect Peter to have a great year. He played some big-time golf this summer."
Wheaton Warrenville South and Wheaton North are also legitimate threats in the ever-rugged DVC. "We have a lot in common with Wheaton South this year," said Wheaton North coach Mike Pribaz, who will count on returning sectional qualifiers Winkelmann and Suazo to lead the team. "We both have a lot of sophomores (starting). I think we're all chasing Naperville North. After their first two scores come in, it's such a mountain to climb (to beat them). Raymond Knoll is in a class by himself, especially with Tee-K (Kelly, the three-time WW South state qualifier) gone."
Will Kelly, the sophomore younger sibling of the Ohio State freshman is the Tigers' top player. Talented underclassmen have already come to the fore, and Glenbard North coach Paul Craig has a pair of ninth-graders -- Brady and Tintera -- occupying his top-two spots.
"(Brady) carries himself like a senior," Craig said after Brady was the medalist at Glen Oaks Country Club on Wednesday. In the Upstate Eight Conference, the three Indian Prairie high schools are on a collision course for top honors in the Valley Division. "We lost our top two players," Waubonsie Valley coach Dave Owles said of two-time state qualifiers Alec Meyer and Alex Koulos. "We have all seniors and juniors, but we don't have proven experience."
But the Warriors still boast a fearsome potential behind Copeland -- along with Neuqua Valley senior Roaches a returning at-large state qualifier -- and Marrs. In the twin divisions of the West Suburban, Hinsdale South, with Basa as its central ringleader, looks to repeat after ending the eight-year stranglehold Downers South had on the Gold trophy. "They're still the team to beat," Downers South coach Jay Baum said.
Third-year Willowbrook coach Gary Walker is pumped about the Warriors' chances this fall. "Admittedly, I don't know a lot about the history of Willowbrook golf, but I think this has to be one of the best teams we have had," Walker said of his current edition.
Addison Trail will stake its hopes on returning sectional qualifier Piotrowksi. In the WSC Silver Division, the coaches have no illusions about what awaits them. "We're all playing for second place," Hinsdale Central coach Jess Krueger said after Lyons' third consecutive tournament title in as many days to start the season. "We can't make up 20 shots (the difference between the two schools at the Oak Park-River Forest Invitational Wednesday)." The tradition-rich Red Devils do have three returning state qualifiers of their own, however, in Whinery, Yoo and Olson.
York is another team looking to become radar noticed after a series of consistent performances to start the season. There will be mental adjustments for Fenton and Timothy Christian this year. The two, with Glenbard South also in the fray, expect to go toe to toe in the Metro Suburban this fall. But both schools have moved up in class designation for the state series. Timothy won its first golf trophy in program history with its third-place finish at the Class 1A state finals last fall, while the Dobon brothers were both individual qualifiers for the Bison in Class 2A. The schools will be at 2A and 3A, respectively, this fall.
"I don't think it affects the kids that much," Fenton coach Rick Johnson said. "It will be a little more difficult to get through (to state). That's our focus: the state series is what we really try to shoot for."
Lisle is also making the adjustment after moving to Class 2A a year ago. The Lions look for another state run by Hannan.
"I am looking for David to go to state," Lisle coach Yousef Matariyeh said. "I think he has the ability to do it."
Maack seeks back-to-back state appearances in the middle division for Montini this fall.
Key dates: Aug. 20: Palatine Invitational; Aug. 27: Warren Invitational; Sept. 1: Fenton Invitational; Sept. 1: St. Viator Invitational; Sept. 6: Hinsdale Central-Lyons Township; Sept. 12: Aurora City Tournament; Sept. 18: Naperville Central-Naperville North; Sept. 19: Waubonsie Valley-Neuqua Valley; Sept. 22: Hinsdale Central Invitational; week of Sept. 24: Conference championships.
Predicted state champions: Class 1A: North Country Day; Class 2A: Belleville Altholf Catholic; Class 3A: Lyons Township.
-- Kevin McGavin