TOP 10 RECRUITS
PLAYER, SCHOOL POS.
1. Kyle Prater, Proviso West WR
— All of the country's top programs are targeting the 6-foot-5 wideout
2. Christian Lombard, Palatine Fremd G
— Joining a Notre Dame program that is stacked with offensive line talent
3. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Johnsburg TE
— Scout.com ranks the Illini recruit as the No. 2 tight end in the country
4. Chandler Whitmer, Downers Grove South QB
— Bound for UI to battle Nathan Scheelhaase and others for Juice's spot
5. Corey Cooper, Proviso East S
— Another well-regarded sort that's headed Ron Zook's way
6. Bruce Gaston, Chicago St. Rita DT
— His list of schools reportedly includes Notre Dame and most of the Big Ten
7. Zach Fulton, Homewood-Flossmoor OT
— Xavier Fulton's brother will play for controversial Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin
8. Matt Milton, Mascoutah WR
— Tennessee-bound Milton plays at a small school not known for football talent
9. Shawn Afryl, Niles West G
— Committed to UI; he's 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds
10. Warren Herring, Belleville East TE
— He's made an oral commitment to Wisconsin
TOP 5 STATE PRODUCTS AT ILLINOIS
1. Juice Williams, quarterback, Chicago. Record book will have his name all over it by season's end.
2. Michael Hoomanawanui, tight end, Bloomington. Sporting News rated him the fourth-best tight end prospect in 2010 NFL draft.
3. Doug Pilcher, defensive end, Hinsdale. One key to a unit that must show improvement in 2009.
4. Martez Wilson, linebacker, Chicago. Is it time for all of that potential to become reality?
5. Jon Asamoah, guard, Park Forest. Named to the Outland Trophy watch list.
TOP 5 TEAMS IN EACH CLASS
1. Wheaton Warrenville South. Upset early last year in playoffs, but there'll be no repeat.
2. Maine South. Look for big things from Indiana recruit Matt Perez.
3. Hinsdale Central. Offense of last year's Class 8A runner-up remains loaded.
4. Chicago Mount Carmel. Coach Frank Lenti receives two-game suspension for sending "marketing letters."
5. Bolingbrook. Athletic director Alec Anderson, formerly of Urbana, no doubt is proud.
1. Glenbard West. Duchon Field is as picturesque as they come.
2. Carmel. East Suburban Catholic (Joliet Catholic, Nazareth) is brutal.
3. East St. Louis. Lost a lot of talent, but there's always some remaining.
4. Chicago St. Rita. The pride of Chicago Public League football.
5. Geneva. While you're in Geneva, don't miss the town's minor league baseball stadium.
1. Joliet Catholic. It's considered an upset when they DON'T win the state title.
2. Providence. What would Illinois football be without Joliet Catholic-Providence?
3. Lemont. Illini lineman Graham Pocic's school could be at Memorial Stadium with him.
4. Cary-Grove. Trojans have a strong running back tandem.
5. Crete-Monee. Looking to strike a blow for Chicago's South Side.
1. Morris. If recent seasons haven't been up to their lofty standards, that could change.
2. Lombard Montini. These guys can wrestle, too.
3. LaGrange Nazareth. Relative newcomers, given the haughty traditions at places like Morris.
4. Metamora. Let's hope the Redbirds don't face Champaign Central in first round for third straight season.
5. Cahokia. The Comanches are coming off an 11-win season.
1. Aurora Christian. Coach Don Beebe will have them playing with passion.
2. Bloomington Central Catholic. Out to prove that last year wasn't a fluke.
3. Addison Driscoll. Is state title No. 9 in the cards?
4. Breese Mater Dei. Private schools thriving among the middle-sized schools.
5. Quincy Notre Dame. The soccer team is awfully good, too.
1. Decatur St. Teresa. Must survive the hammerheads who reside in the Okaw Valley Conference.
2. Stillman Valley. Perennially strong program won't take a step back in 2009.
3. Illini West (Carthage). Defending champs have shot to repeat.
4. DuQuoin. Four runner-up finishes since 1994.
5. Anna-Jonesboro. Nobody wants to make a visit to The Pit.
1. Casey-Westfield. Seven losses during the last five seasons.
2. Maroa-Forsyth. Must replace some top seniors, but there's no reason to doubt they'll accomplish it.
3. Bureau Valley. Won 10 games in coach Jeff Ohlson's first season.
4. Auburn. Gene Chizik's favorite team.
5. Lena-Winslow. A postseason without Lena-Winslow? That's apocalyptic.
1. Salt Fork. Area school gets the nod.
2. Dakota. Best team this side of Fargo.
3. Galena. Young squad made a strong run a year ago.
4. Concord Triopia. Unbeaten team blew away Stark County in the '09 title game.
5. Milledgeville. Northwest part of the state could use a state title contender.
TOP 5 GAMES
1. Monticello at Unity, Oct. 9. New Sages coach Cully Welter gets a good look at life in the rugged Okaw Valley.
2. Danville at Champaign Central, Oct. 9. Some serious talent on the field; will outcome have bearing on Big 12 title?
3. Tuscola at Unity, Sept. 18. Would have been a little more interesting if Warriors QB Jud Wienke hadn't gotten hurt.
4. Westville at Salt Fork, Sept. 11. These two have become Vermilion Valley Conference heavyweights in recent years.
5. Mahomet-Seymour at Normal U-High, Sept. 25 (Illinois State). Former Tuscola quarterback Dusty Burk, now the Pioneers' coach, takes on tough-minded Bulldogs.
1. Wheaton Warrenville South at Maine South, Sept. 4. One could argue they're the two best teams in Illinois.
2. Joliet Catholic at Providence, Sept. 4. The Celtics and Hilltoppers will determine the 6A title favorite in this game.
3. Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin at Montini, Saturday. A 3:30 p.m. kickoff for a game that will have a college atmosphere.
4. Carmel at Joliet Catholic, today. East Suburban Catholic title figures to be on the line.
5. Chicago St. Rita at Morris, Sept. 4. Looks like Sept. 4 will be the prime week if you're a fan of Illinois prep football.
TOP 5 NFL ALUMNI (active)
1. Donovan McNabb, Chicago Mount Carmel. Not concerned about his well-paid, formerly incarcerated backup.
2. Flozell Adams, Proviso West. Five-time Pro Bowl selection ignores the annual circus atmosphere of his team.
3. David Diehl, Brother Rice. A New York Giants Super Bowl ring looks good on those meaty hands.
4. Eric Steinbach, Providence. Browns guard and former Iowa Hawkeye is one of the game's highest paid at his position.
5. Antwaan Randle El, Thornton. Had a career-high 53 catches last season; gets slight nod over Pierre Thomas.
TOP 5 AREA RIVALRIES
1. St. Joseph-Ogden vs. Unity. Legislature should pass a law mandating that they play every year.
2. Georgetown-Ridge Farm vs. Westville. Coal Bucket is on the line, but it's more about civic pride.
3. Centennial vs. Champaign Central. A refurbished Tommy Stewart Field should be rocking again this October for the next installment. Who knows, the game might even sell out?
4. Tuscola vs. Arcola. Cola Wars might have lost a tad bit of luster, but it's still alluring.
5. Paxton-Buckley-Loda vs. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Battle of the hyphens annually a Week 1 highlight.
TOP 5 COACHES
1. Cully Welter, Monticello. When you've won three state titles, you go straight to the head of the list.
2. Dick Duval, St. Joseph-Ogden. Four runner-up finishes in the state tournament; due to nab the top prize one of these days.
3. Scott Hamilton, Unity. Do the Rockets ever have a down year? Ever?
4. B.J. Luke, Danville. You want to see what he can do? Check out this year's team.
5. Guy Goodlove, Westville. Has the respect of peers, players, opponents, everyone.
1. Frank Lenti, Chicago Mount Carmel. All-time wins leader among active coaches in Illinois.
2. Dan Sharp, Joliet Catholic. Gordie Gillespie would be proud.
3. Rich Zinanni, Kankakee McNamara. Might be overlooked elsewhere, but around Kankakee they know how good he is.
4. Jim Unruh, Carthage. His winning percentage is higher than the Harlem Globetrotters'.
5. Don Beebe, Aurora Christian. Just a hunch, but we're guessing the former Buffalo Bills star is zooming up this list.