When it comes to football in the West Suburban Conference, bragging rights have been pretty one-sided.
Silver dominates Gold.
While the Silver Division teams still hold a decisive edge, this might be the year the Gold starts catching up.
"It's much improved from where we were a few years ago," said Addison Trail coach Paul Parpet Jr.
If the Gold is improved, Addison Trail will be a reason why.
The Blazers haven't made the playoffs since last winning the Gold title in 2011. But with third-year starters returning in receiver-defensive back Jaavion Bradley, an All-Area player last season who caught 43 passes for 573 yards and 4 touchdowns, linebacker Eric Gilliam and defensive back Matt Gontarek, they'll challenge defending champion Downers Grove South.
It won't be easy for Addison Trail and the rest of the Gold to stop Downers South from repeating. The Mustangs, who last year won their first title since 2010, feature DuPage County's top group of linemen led by Michigan-bound junior Erik Swenson.
Speaking of top linemen, Hinsdale South's Josh King is rated by Rivals as the No. 1 junior recruit in the state. The Hornets will lean on juniors quite a bit, but this still could be their year.
Willowbrook graduated the bulk of its record-breaking offense from last season -- an offense that averaged 500 yards a game. The Warriors will make up for it on the other side of the ball with returning defensive lineman Andrew Kanelos and linebackers David Harris, Jake Henderson and Elijah Rochel.
"The league as a whole has gotten better, so I think it's wide open again," said Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth, whose team hopes to become the fourth champion in as many years. "I've seen the level of play go up across the board the last few years."
The Gold title race might spin like a revolving door, but Glenbard West has maintained firm control of the Silver crown. Last year's unbeaten romp marked the program's fifth outright title in six years.
The Hilltoppers, winners in 35 of their last 36 Silver games, enter the season riding an 18-game conference winning streak. With another stout defense headed by linebacker Ben Marcus, and another powerful ground game led by Sam Brodner and Donahvon Vaughn, Glenbard West is favored again.
"We'll have our hand full," said Hilltoppers coach Chad Hetlet. "There's a lot of talent in the conference."
Last season Oak Park came 6 points shy of beating Glenbard West and claiming the title for itself. The Huskies reload this season with Northwestern-bound quarterback Lloyd Yates and offensive lineman Adam Lemke-Bell, also a Wildcats recruit.
Glenbard West and Oak Park are the clear front-runners in the Silver, but after that the race becomes murky. Especially with Hinsdale Central and York welcoming new coaches in Dan Hartman and Matt Monken, respectively.
Downers Grove North is the wild card in the Silver. After missing a chunk of last season because of injuries, quarterback David Edwards, committed to Wisconsin, is healthy entering his third varsity campaign.
Edwards is joined by dominant defensive lineman E.J. Phillips on a team that'll lean on a bunch of junior talent. If the youngsters get up to varsity speed quickly, the Trojans will be interesting to watch.
Veteran Trojans coach John Wander knows it won't be easy.
It never is in the Silver.
"I'd say it's a heavy 1-2 with Glenbard West and Oak Park," Wander said. "We'll see how we fit in."
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