Grayslake North couldn't get to the playoffs this year, but the team has an interesting future thanks to junior quarterback A.J. Fish.
He dominated the list of area passing leaders, throwing for over 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns, while completing 71 percent of his passes.
In Friday night's 47-35 loss to Woodstock North, Fish completed 14 of 15 passes for 232 yards in the first half.
Fish, who also plays basketball and lacrosse, could use more bulk on his 6-foot-3 frame, but he's got plenty of speed, rushing for 114 yards against the Thunder.
He threw 10 interceptions this season, but Knights coach Steve Wood expects that college interest will grow.
"We're starting to get more and more," Wood said. "His stats are unbelievable. If he wants to play college football, there will be an opportunity. He's a tremendous athlete, probably one of the best flat-out athletes in Lake County, maybe Northern Illinois."
But Fish will bid farewell to his favorite receiver.
Senior Josh Cokefair piled up 245 receiving yards against Woodstock North and finished the season with 51 catches for 1,155 yards.
"We're going to talk a lot about that," Wood said. "Josh is a kid, I don't want to say wasn't good as a junior, but he obviously wasn't this good as a junior.
"He worked his butt off in the off-season and I tell you what, he's a darn good football player. We need one of our juniors to step up and say, 'Hey, if he can do it, so can I.' "
Tough test for Prospect:
The waiting was just one of the hardest parts of Prospect's seventh straight appearance in the state football playoffs.
Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen wasn't convinced his 5-4 team was in the playoffs until about 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The Knights' 40 playoff points were just enough to make the highest cutoff for 5-4 teams in IHSA history.
So, as team No. 252 in the 256-team field, the 16th-seeded Knights hit the road Saturday for their Class 7A opener against top-seed Glenbard West (9-0), which some observers consider its best team since its 1983 state champion.
But the trip there included a recovery from a slow 1-3 start, a late drive to edge Rolling Meadows and avoid elimination two weeks ago and a win at Buffalo Grove on Friday.
"I said to the kids (Saturday), 'We haven't done anything easy all year so why should it start now," first-year Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen said with a laugh. "Let's go at it and do our job. As long as we play our style of football I feel good about our opportunity.
"They're a big, physical football team and there's a reason they are 9-0. It will be a fun experience for the kids and a challenging experience."
The Knights' seven-year playoff streak is tied for third-longest in MSL history with Rolling Meadows (2003-09). Fremd is first at 16 (1995-2010) and Palatine is second at 12 (1987-96).
Better than last year:
Elk Grove is opening the playoffs for the second straight year with a Mid-Suburban League opponent.
The difference this time is the Grenadiers (8-1) won't have faced Mayor's Trophy rival Conant (6-3) the last two seasons when they meet in a 7A opener.
Last year the Grenadiers lost their opener to a Schaumburg team they had beaten in an MSL crossover.
"Last year was a weird situation playing Schaumburg," said Elk Grove coach Brian Doll.
"This is OK because we haven't played them early this year and I get along with Bill (Conant coach Modelski) really well. It will be a lot of fun."