2022 season preview: Scouting the Central Suburban Conference

North Division


2021 record: 9-2, lost in second round of 6A playoffs to Crystal Lake Central

Coach: Steve Winiecki

Worth noting: The Warriors continue to get strong. They have been to the playoffs for the last two playoff seasons and five of the last six seasons for Winiecki, who is in his 23rd season as head coach. ... The Warriors return seven players from last season, four of which were on the offensive side. Seniors Vince Sciarrone (RB/LB), Brady Sterzik (OL/DL) and Bryce Berger (OL/DL) will be going both ways while Luke Pollack will return at the wide receiver position. Joey Kliebard (DL) and Alex Fern (DB) are back on the defensive side. ... Zach Chalmers (DB), Brady Mills (DB), Drew Herzberg (LB) and Augustas Januskevicius (LB) will also be keys on the defense. Brady Mills (DB) and Aral Sezgun (OL) will be major contributors to the offense

Highland Park

2021 record: 4-5

Coach: Anthony Kopp

Worth noting: It will be a heavy heart for the Giants as they take the field this season. ... Kopp takes over a program that just missed the playoffs last season with 12 sophomores and five juniors that started last season. That experience should pay huge dividends for a Highland Park team that has not been to the playoffs since 2017. ... David Finfer will be back at quarterback to direct the offense. He will have wide receivers Nicholas Blumer, Andrew Cortes and Emmet Pulte back to throw to. Offensive linemen Davis Risko and Eli Secher will anchor the line. ... Linebackers Tyler Gleyzer and Jordan Bernstein will lead he defense. Defensive backs Nikko Rosenbloom and Asher Stern along with defensive lineman Josh Pasternak also figure to contribute big.

Maine East

2021 record: 0-9

Coach: Robert Winkel

Worth noting: The bad news is that the Blue Demons are mired on a 41-game losing streak. But the good news is that are poised to break that this season. ... Maine East returns 11 starters. But nearly all will be playing both sides of the ball, so depth could be an issue. ... However, they are also buoyed by the fact that they have 36 players on the varsity squad and over 80 in their program. ... The Demons have the backfield returning with quarterback Adam Awad and running backs Lucio Roa, Yusef Awad and Moin Jahkaria to spark the offense. Sam Likudis, Timo Kato and Tristin Walton will be at wide receiver while Johnathan Mathew is at tight end to give the Blue Demons plenty of options to throw the ball to. ... Edgar Torres and Kevin Martinez will be there to anchor the offensive line.

Maine West

2021 record: 2-7

Coach: George Klupchak

Worth noting: The Warriors took a step back last season. But with 11 starters returning and over 50 varsity players, Maine West appears poised to be making two steps forward. ... Isaac Pittman returns at running back to lead the offense. He will get to run behind an offensive line that has three big starters back in Will Han (6-2, 245, Ethan Mattson (6-1, 235) and Sean Jones (6-2, 240). Wide receivers Jason Hidan and Szymon Grum also return and should give the Warriors some options on offense. ... Defensively, the Warriors also look stout. They are led by defensive lineman Josh Emeka (6-3, 220) who has an offer from Dayton. Linebackers Frank Norman, Ben Cooper, Kyle Ramirez and Grum also return.

Niles North

2021 record: 4-5

Coach: Andre Ashley

Worth noting: The Vikings have not been to the playoffs since 2015. Ashey, who is the new head coach at Niles North, will inherit a young team that returns just five starters. ... CJ Hood, who is a junior, will be back at quarterback. The remainder of the skill positions are relatively untested in varsity competition. Dionisi Ballas and Maurice Pelt are at running back. The wide receivers include Franklin Parks, Vansh Shah, Paul Yousseff and the tight end is Bolu Apantaku. ... Arian Alaj, who returns at center, will anchor an offensive line that includes Caleb Stirbu, Yousef Noush, Daniel Kim and Alex Zagorin. ... The defense will be keyed by Jaquan Bansedder and Ankeedo Daveed, who both return at linebacker.

Vernon Hills

2021 record: 7-3, lost in opening round of 6A playoffs to Prairie Ridge

Coach: Bill Bellecomo

Worth noting: The Cougars are a team to watch this season. That's because they return their staring quarterback in senior Nolan Lazor and running back Ben Choi. That should give the Cougars one of the top backfield combinations in the area. ... They also return on offense two of the top linemen in Thomas Elster and Max Accettura. Jackson Gurvis and Damian Almanza will also be key additions to the offensive line along with returning tight end Erik Boehmer. ... The Cougars will have a trio of newcomers at wide receiver in Damian Almanza, Jack Ratajczyk and Derek Steinert. ... Defensive lineman Max Accettura and linebackers Andrey Potarskiy and Erik Boehmer return to be major factors on defense. Defensive back Anthony Martorano also returns along with Jack Pristas, who started the first four games of the season last year before an injury shut him down. ... The defense will also be bolstered by Gurvis, Almanza, Gio Urso (LB), Jake Slavish (DB), Ziemke, Ratajczyk, Steinert and David Castilla.

Five players to watch

Nolan Lazor, QB, Vernon Hills, Sr. - Tore up the summer after returning from a torn labrum

Ben Choi, RB, Vernon Hills, Sr. - Rushed for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns last year

Vince Sciarrone, RB/LB, Deerfield, Sr. - Had 118 tackles and 3 touchdowns on offense last year.

David Finfer, QB, Highland Park, Sr. - Will lead the Giants at quarterback for second consecutive year.

Josh Emeka, DL, Maine West, Sr. - Has an offer from Dayton

Five can't-miss matchups

Week 1: Leyden at Highland Park

Week 3: Deerfield at Hersey

Week 5: Deerfield at Vernon Hills

Week 6: Vernon Hills at Maine West

Week 8: Vernon Hills at Highland Park

South Division


2021 record: 6-4, lost in opening round of 8A playoffs to Plainfield North

Coach: Mike Burzawa

Worth noting: The Wildkits will begin the season with a heavy heart after the loss of assistant coach Alex Thomas, who was the leader of their 1997 football team. ... The Wildcats have leaders on this year's squad with 7 returning starters back from last season. That group includes starting quarterback Dylan Groff and three-year starting offensive linemen Gabe Rosen (6-8, 330) and Charlie Kremin (6-4, 290), Mac Mettee (WR/RB), defensive backs Omari Waldron and Preston Brown along with Florian Feldman (DL). ... The Wildkits also have a plethora of returning lettermen in offensive linemen Elijah Hardigree and Cameron Wellington Knibbs and wide receivers Myles Kye and Boaz Lieberman. ... The defense will be buoyed by linemen John Toledo and Derrion Coleman, linebackers Brennon Ptak and Jian Kramer along with kicker Evan Siegel. ... The Wildkits will be seeking their 10th playoff appearance under Burzawa.

Glenbrook North

2021 record: 3-6

Coach: Matt Purdy

Worth noting: The Spartans are coming of a trio of below average seasons. They look to turn things around this season with a team that returns 14 starters, including 8 on offense. ... The Spartans return three on the offensive line in Ryan Lofland, Patrick Mahoney and Max Muivihill, along with tight end and West Michigan commit Patrick Schaller. Matthew Gasior and Henry Beazley round out the line. Reese Marquez returns to run behind that group. The wide receivers are led by McCartney Kalmar, Jack Philbin, Tarek Taha and Connor Durst. ... The Spartans are going with youth at quarterback. Sophomore JJ Schlenhardt will be taking all the snaps and directing the offense. ... The front seven for the Titans should be quite stout. It includes Schaller, Mahoney, Jordan Kalmar, Jordan Kane, Anar Binderiya, Owen Washlow, and Laith Salim. Philbin will anchor the secondary along with Graham Gottschild and Connor Durst.

Glenbrook South

2021 record: 9-3, lost in 8A quarterfinals to Marist

Coach: David Schoenwetter

Worth noting: The Titans are coming off their best season in a dozen years. They look to build off that success this season with 9 starters returning, 7 of which played on the defensive side: Tommy MacPherson (DB), Hank Leahy (LB), Jacque Gariepy (DL), Alex Pappas (LB), Drew Duffy (DL), Chuck Gottfred (DB), and Patrick Downing (DL). All seven are seniors and should be the backbone of the defense. Seniors Luke Marino (LB), Jonathan Dumars (DB) and Jack Haravon (DL) also figure in the mix. ... Offensively, the Titans will be looking to rebuild. They will still have offensive linemen Nick Brattleaf, Johnny Rolfes and Duffy returning. Gottfred will be back at running back ... Hunter Kreske will step in the quarterback role while Griffim Dahiya will be his main threat on the receiving end.

Maine South

2021 record: 12-2, lost in 8A state championship game to Lockport

Coach: Dave Inserra

Worth noting: The South has belonged to Maine South. The Hawks have won the CSL 20 times in the last 21 years. They have not lost a conference game since 2016. ... The defending 8A state runners-up are looking to looking to make their mark on their legacy. They will do it with a new quarterback at he helm in Ryan Leyden, who is 6-3 and 210 pounds. ... Leyden will have a pair of returning solid receivers to throw to in junior Evan Agosto and senior Ryan Pothast. The Hawks also added Maurice Densmore to their roster when the junior transferred form Homewood-Flossmoor. ... The interior of the offensive line returns in center Spencer Dow and guards Bennett Smith and Tommy Porrello. Andres Pinto, who is a senior, and sophomore Michael Dellumo will be working at running back. ... The defense also looks solid. Defensive end Emmet Wolf and defensive tackle Noah Collins both return to bolster the defense. Kicker Sam Taglia is also a huge weapon for the Hawks.

New Trier

2021 record: 5-5, lost in opening round of 8A playoffs to Maine South

Coach: Brian Doll

Worth noting: The Trevians had a very good season going through the first 8 weeks last year. But back-to-back losses in the regular season finale and the opening round of the playoffs to Maine South left them with a feeling of some unfinished business. ... They return 9 starters from that team, four on offense and five on defense. They hope to fill out that starting lineup from a varsity roster of 73 players as New Trier has seen a 35% growth in its number of players from last season. ... The Trevians return running back Jackson McCarey, who scored five touchdowns last season while fullback Liam Fitzgerald may also play tight end. Linemen Tyler Hurley (OG) and Caden Minouge (OC) will be fixtures upfront while sophomore Patrick Heneghan and junior Dylan Jeppe will vie for the starting spot at quarterback. ... Ty Stringer, who was standout at defensive tackle last season, will be a key to the defense again this year. Fitzgerald will be at defensive end while Henry Wolfe and Will Morrison are at linebacker. McCarey will also go both ways, playing defensive back.

Niles West

2021 record: 2-7

Coach: Nick Torresso

Worth noting: The Wolves continue to move up the ladder. The have five starters returning from last season. ... They do have a number of juniors and sophomores penciled in to play this season. If this group can grow up quickly, the Wolves could have their eye on their first playoff appearance since 2014. ... Joey Pantazis returns at running back. The junior will also swing over to the defensive side to play linebacker. Aidan Sebastian, who is also a junior, is back and will help anchor the offensive lineā€¦. Junior quarterback John Bae will step in to take over the reins on offense. He will have help from Jason Fowler (TE/LB) and sophomore wide receivers Aahil Khan and Christian Guzman. ... Defensive backs Matei Cotofrea and Enrique Ramirez-Antunez are back as starters along with lineman Ales De Los Reyes to help key the defense. Jayden Fowler (LB), Lejuan Morales (DB), Manny Olojo (DL), Maddux Niedermaier (DB) and Leon Zakharia (LB) should also contribute.

Five players to watch

Ryan Leyden, QB, Maine South, Sr. - Another in a long line of great QBs for the Hawks

Jackson McCarey, RB, New Trier, Jr. - Will carry the load for the Trevians

Gabe Rosen, OL, Evanston, Sr. - Has an offer from Valparaiso and interest from other D-1 schools

Patrick Schaller, TE, Glenbrook North, Sr. - Committed to Western Michigan

Emmett Wolf, DE, Maine South, S. - Committed to Grand Valley State

Five can't miss matchups

Week 2: Warren at Maine South

Week 3: Evanston at Barrington

Week 3: New Trier at Palatine

Week 4: Prospect at Maine South

Week 9: New Trier at Maine South

  Maine South's Evan Agosto is back for the Hawks after helping them reach last year's Class 8A state championship game. Joe Lewnard/
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