The future looks bright at Lakes. Especially if it turns out to be even half as bright as the past.
Last year, the Eagles didn't lose a game at the freshman and sophomore levels. And now, many of those players are on the varsity.
"Our kids have had a lot of success in the past," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. "Success breeds success. The more we win, the more the kids expect to win and that's the first step to actually winning."
The Eagles won six games last year and made the playoffs. With seven starters returning on offense and seven on defense, not to mention the addition of a ton confident newcomers, they believe they have the tools to win at a much greater clip this year.
"The (North Suburban) Prairie Division is always very balanced and tough," Mertens said. "But I think we will compete."
Offensively, Lakes will look to be balanced, but the emphasis will be on the rushing game with a handful of big linemen and some speedy runners in the fold.
"I hope that our strength is our ability to run the football," Mertens said. "That will be our focus."
Returning in the backfield are running backs Direll Clark and Mike Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer led the team in rushing last season and Clark was a spark with his speed. He missed a few games with an ankle injury but is now healthy.
"We have quite a few big guys on our line to run behind," Mertens said.
Dan Pawlak returns to the offensive line. He is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds. Dillon Falotico is 6-foot-5, 291 pounds.
Ty Summers, Mike Forney and Zach Ptasienski also have good size.
The Eagles' big line should also come in handy for quarterback Chris Hoffman, who started last year and has a strong arm.
"Chris has looked the best he's ever looked," Mertens said. "I call it the senior light bulb. It's like once some of these kids become seniors, the light bulb goes off and everything just comes together for them."
Hoffman will have two big and speedy targets to throw to in receivers Justin Bergeron and Tanner Blain.
Blain will also be a focal point on defense, where he started at cornerback last year.
"Defensively, our strength will be our team speed," Mertens said. "Overall, this is a faster group than we've had in the past."
The Eagles also might have more spunk on defense, thanks to linebacker Alan Gomez.
"He's one of those players who really plays with passion and heart," Mertens said. "A lot of our other guys really feed off him."
Pos. Name Ht/Wt Yr.
OL Dan Pawlak 6-5/265 Sr.
OL Dillon Falotico 6-6/291 Jr.
OL Zach Ptasienski 6-0/20 Sr.
OL Ty Summers 6-2/275 Jr.
OL Mike Forney 6-2/270 Sr.
TE John Gomulka 6-3/195 Jr.
QB Chris Hoffman 6-0/160 Sr.
RB Mike Pfeiffer 6-1/185 Sr.
WR Andrew Spencer 5-11/170 Jr.
WR Justin Bergeron 6-3/192 Jr.
WR Ashton Norwood 5-7/150 Sr.
DL AJ Goggin 6-3/205 Jr.
DL Matt Boudart 5-11/175 Jr.
DL Isaac Soto 6-1/230 Sr.
LB Alan Gomez 5-10/205 Sr.
LB Jimmy Wright 6-0/210 Sr.
LB Turner Bradshaw 5-10/185 Sr.
OLB Brandon Brumm 5-7/150 Jr.
OLB Troy Crow 5-11/190 Jr.
S Drew Recker 6-0/165 Jr.
CB Levi Haymaker 6-0/170 Jr.
CB Tanner Blain 6-2/175 Sr.