No one’s rankings are perfect. Ever year, overlooked teams rise above ranked ones.
Last year, Cary-Grove, Lake Zurich, Loyola, Marist and Montini all ended up highly ranked in the final ESPNChicago.com poll after not being included in the preseason version.
While we stand behind our 2010 preseason Top 20 rankings, here are some teams that could be entering the picture throughout the season.
Aurora Christian: The addition of Joliet Catholic transfer Anthony Maddie is a major boost for coach Don Beebe’s squad. Maddie started at quarterback for the Hilltoppers last season.
Bolingbrook: The Raiders lost a number of skilled players, but will reload again.
Buffalo Grove: The Bison lost four games by a combined 19 points last season. With a number of returnees back, they should be able to win some of those close games this season.
Cary-Grove: The Trojans graduated a bulk of their talent from last year’s 6A state title team, but it’s hard to ever count them out of the mix. Coach Bruce Kay’s teams have won nine or more games the last six seasons.
De La Salle: The Meteors surprised plenty of people last year with a run to the 6A state quarterfinals. If they do it again, it won’t be shocking. De La Salle returns seven offensive starters and four on defense.
Geneva: Running back Connor Quinn should keep the Vikings’ offense rolling this season.
Glenbard North: The Panthers lost a lot from last year’s 11-2 team, but they do return starting running back Evan Natick, who is again healthy after breaking his leg last season.
Glenbrook North: The Spartans will be relying on their massive offensive line this season. Four of their linemen are 270 pounds or more, which should be helpful to senior quarterback Zack Hilgendorf.
Kaneland: The Knights could be among the top 5A teams this season. They return five all-conference players, including quarterback Joe Camiliere.
Lemont: This is another one of the area’s programs that seems to reload every season.
Lockport: Senior running back Daniel Holman was among the state’s best last season, rushing for more than 175 yards per game.
Loyola: The Ramblers may not be as dominant defensively as they were a year ago, but they will have some talent again.
Lyons: The Lions are another reason why the DuPage Valley is always one of the toughest conferences.
Marian Central Catholic: The Hurricanes return a number of key pieces, including running back Cody Cavitt and quarterback Ben Krol, from last year’s 8-3 team.
Marian Catholic: The Spartans’ offense could be potent this season with quarterback John Rhode, running back Jeruel Taylor and offensive linemen Jeff Bona and Brian Kelly all returning.
Marist: Star quarterback Mike Perish may have graduated, but the RedHawks still have plenty coming back. Watch for running back McKinley Moore to have a big season.
Marmion: The Cadets could be among the favorites in Class 6A. They return a majority of their squad from last year’s 9-2 team and have more depth this season.
Morgan Park: The Mustangs are still among the elite teams in the Chicago Public League.
Plainfield North: The Tigers should again be near the top of the Southwest Prairie. Running back Kapri Bibbs should be one to watch this season.
Richards: Jarrell Williams, a Northwestern recruit, should be one of the state’s most electrifying players this season. He does a lot of everything on both sides of the ball.
Sandburg: The Eagles return a good portion of their defense from last year’s 7-4 team. With a lot of speed back, they should be fun to watch.
Schaumburg: The Saxons just missed the Top 20 rankings. They should possess one of the top offenses in the area with quarterback Mark Iannotti, running back Shepard Little and three offensive linemen returning.
Simeon: The Wolverines just missed the Top 20 as well. They welcome new coach Dante Culbreath, who replaces longtime coach Al Scott. Culbreath will have plenty of returnees to work with. Offensive tackle Chris Bryant leads that group and is being highly recruited.
South Elgin: The Storm reached the playoffs for the first time in school history last season, and with a number of returnees on offense and defense, they’re likely to reach the postseason again in 2010. Quarterback John Menken should be among the area’s best this season.
St. Charles North: The North Stars will be a team to keep an eye on once quarterback Jake Bergren returns from injury.
Stevenson: Longtime assistant Bill McNamara takes over the program from legendary coach Bill Mitz. The Patriots lost some talent to graduation, but they will be returning quarterback Kevin Earl, linebacker Brion Wood and defensive end Mike Crowley.
Vernon Hills: Senior wide receivers DaVaris Daniels and Evan Spencer are among the best in the country.
Waubonsie Valley: The Warriors’ defense should be among the best in the Upstate Eight again with the return of six starters. Offensively, tight end Mark Szott, a Northwestern recruit, will be one to watch.
Wheaton North: The Falcons were one of the major surprises in last year’s playoffs. Returning quarterback Reece Butler and company will be looking to build on that.