For a football league with only five teams, there's an awful lot to keep track of in the Metro Suburban Conference.
Without a doubt the biggest change this season is the addition of Glenbard South to the MSC. Independent no more, the Raiders enter the conference as immediate favorites to win the title.
"We're excited about the opportunity," said Raiders coach Jeremy Cordell. "After a year as an independent it's nice to be competing in a conference again. One of our goals is to win a conference title, so that's what we're shooting for."
One familiar face for the Raiders will be Fenton, which Glenbard South beat 52-0 in Week 3 last season. The teams have played each other in nonconference action every year since 2007.
Despite four straight losses to Glenbard South, however, the Bison aren't going to simply hand over the title to the Raiders. Not as two-time defending champions in the MSC.
"We're very respectful that Glenbard South is an excellent program, but our kids have a chip on their shoulder," said Fenton coach Mark Kos. "Our kids aren't just going to relinquish the title. They'll have to earn it."
Glenbard South's addition brings another major change to the MSC. Unlike the last five seasons since the formation of the conference, the teams won't be playing each other twice.
Teams still need to schedule five nonconference games, but it's a welcome change for the coaches.
"From a coaching standpoint it's refreshing," Kos said. "It was hard seeing those teams twice a season."
Glenbard South returns 11 starters from a team that narrowly missed the playoffs due in much part to an avalanche of injuries. Standout running back Wes Sanders and quarterback Tyler Padera head a talented offense.
Fenton welcomes back MSC offensive player of the year Alan Geneva and a new -- but very familiar -- offensive coordinator in Otto Zeman, the former longtime coach for Bison rival Riverside-Brookfield. Expect a much greater passing presence from Fenton.
Speaking of R-B, the Bulldogs will vie for the title after missing out on the crown and a playoff berth with last year's Week 9 loss to Fenton. Ridgewood and Elmwood Park look to surprise in the league.
"We're certainly not looking past anyone," Cordell said. "We know it's going to be a challenge."