Last season, Rolling Meadows quarterback Jack Milas and Prospect quarterback Devin O'Hara led their teams to the top of the Mid-Suburban East football race.
It will be quarterbacks again taking the spotlight in determining the top contenders in the 2013 conference race.
Adam O'Malley, who is a three-year starter at Elk Grove, should have the Grenadiers on track this season.
O'Malley, who was voted the MVP of the Red Grange 7-on-7 tournament over the summer, will be looking to throw to John Pass, Mike Bishoff and Matt Wary. Another option for O'Malley will be running back Travon Royal, who will be dangerous running the ball as well.
"The offense will look a bit different than in years past," Elk Grove coach Larry Calhoun said. "But with a player like O'Malley, you can do lots of things."
Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler has reloaded after losing Milas to graduation and Ball State.
Bobby Suchecki has been impressive during the off-season with his command of the Mustangs offense. Kevin Montero, who will be keeping the pressure off of Suchecki with his running ability, will also be a factor in an offense that averaged over 34 points per game.
"Things here are very much of the same on offense," said Mishler, whose Mustangs are looking to qualify for the state playoffs for the 10th time in the last 11 years.
Matt Drew, who is just a sophomore, is taking over for O'Hara at Prospect. The question is, can he follow in the recent tradition of top-notch quarterbacks that the Knights had put on the field.
"He is very mature for his age," Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen said. "He has had a great summer and we are looking forward to see what he can do when the action starts."
The Knights look strong on defense, where eight starters, led by Brady Eckert, return.
Hersey has the most experience back this season. The Huskies will have 19 players returning that started at some point from a team that just missed making the playoffs last season.
"We are looking to get over that hurdle this year," said Hersey coach Dragan Teonic, whose teams have been 4-5 the last two seasons. "We think we have the talents and experience to do that."
The Huskies boast an offensive line entirely made up of seniors. Chris Collins and Joey Bellafiore will lead the group that will protect quarterback Jack Warner.
Buffalo Grove quarter back Andrew Apel and coach Mike DiMatteo both could not wait to get back on the field after their final game of the season last year. Yes, BG lost its final eight games. But Apel rushed for 3 touchdowns in that final contest, giving the Bison something to build on in 2013.
"We have been moving forward," said DiMatteo, who is in his second year as head coach. "And that is the direction we need to go."
No team in the Northwest suburbs is more intriguing than Wheeling.
After leaving Prospect, where he led the Knights to three state titles, second-year Wheeling head coach Brent Pearlman has the Wildcats shaping up quite nicely.
"The guys have adjusted very well and worked hard in the off-season," he said. "The commitment has been outstanding."
Pearlman figures to have 29 different players on the field from his 34-man roster for the season opener at Mundelein.
Amani Dennis, who started at quarterback in the final 4 games last year, will lead the Wheeling offense. Running back Isaac Brach, who started last year as sophomore, also figures to be a big factor for Wheeling.
Predicted finish: Elk Grove, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, Prospect, Hersey, Buffalo Grove.