Scouting the MSL West
2021 record: 5-5, lost to Warren in first round of 8A playoffs
Coach: Joe Sanchez
Worth noting: The Broncos have just one starter returning from last season in defensive back Andrew Grosch. But if history is any indication of future performance, Barrington will be just fine. ... Although he wasn't he starter last year, Peyton Soske has experience at the quarterback position. Due to an injury, he started a game against Schaumburg last year and looked solid, throwing three touchdown passes. ... Soske will have a group of receivers to throw including seniors John Gurskis, Gibby Husby, Derrick Gehrisch, Josh Wright and Connor Fitzpatrick along with junior Alec Schmidts. Tight ends Max Bradford, Bryan Thoman and Connor Scott should have an impact. ... Running backs Dillon Fitzpatrick and Manny Hall will operate behind an offensive line of seniors Charlie Berry, Robert Dunleavy, Daniel Bregenzer and Evan Fowler along with junior Dylan Balsis. ... The defense, which was solid last year, allowing just over 18 points per game, will be almost entirely rebuilt. It will feature Grosch along with fellow seniors Max Mannello, Cole Di Domenico, Reid Kraus, Jon Fier and M.J. Ward. Juniors Joey Cheh, an Marderosian, Devan Van Ness, Ayden Salley and Ayden Salley will also contribute. ... The Broncos have qualified for the playoffs in the last 8 playoff seasons. And in the COVID year, they were 6-0. ... Barrington is coming off a bookend season where they started and ended their season with losses to Warren. Barrington again opens its season with Warren.
2021 record: 4-5
Coach: Bryan Stortz
Worth noting: Conant just missed the playoffs last season after qualifying the previous two playoff years. And for the first time in three seasons, Conant will have a new quarterback operating their slot wing-T offense as Matthew Maize steps into that role. ... Dominick Mininni, who was also a key cog in the Cougar offense, will reprise his role as the main ball carrier. Cooper Hansen and Cooper Biedke should also be factors. ... The offensive line will be bigger than past seasons with Jash Patel (6-1, 220), Nicolas Mahnke, (6-2, 250), Jonathan Gorski (6-4, 220) and Ricardo Rodriguez (6-1, 180) along with tight end Michael Kennedy (6-0, 175) leading the way. ... Lennon Johnson and Antonio Ramsey will be at wide receiver to give the Cougars solid options when they go to the air. ... They Cougars allowed an average of 36 points per game last season, so shoring up the defense will be a major factor in their success this season. The Cougars will be counting on linebackers Kehinde Suarau, Biedke and Harley Stary along with defensive linemen Armando Hernandez, Patel, Gorski and Rodriguez to slow opponents.
2021 record: 1-8
Coach: Lou Sponsel
Worth noting: The Vikings are looking to bounce back after a tough season last year. What is in their way is a schedule that features seven playoff teams from last year. ... The Vikings will return five players on both offense and defense. ... Caden Suchy is back at quarterback while Reese McBride will hand most of the carries at running back. Bobby Panzino, Jack Wienke, Brennan Saxe and Yahir Martinez will be the main targets as wide receivers with Saxe and Martinez back from last season. ... Casey Bending, who will be a key player for the Vikings on both sides of the ball, will anchor the offensive line. He will be joined by Karol Niemic, who also started last season along with Richie Essien, Tyler Meniis and Anthony Reed. ... Sophomore linebacker Luke McIlhon and junior defensive back Jack Wienke, who both return from last season, will be key cogs on the defensive side. ... If the Vikings can get their young players to step up, they have an opportunity to make some noise.
2021 record: 8-3, lost to Wheaton North in 2nd round of 7A playoffs
Coach: Tim Heyse
Worth noting: Hoffman Estates is coming off its first conference title since 1994. After sharing that title with Palatine, the high-flying Hawks are looking for their own meal. ... Aiden Cyr, who directed an offense that averaged over 37 points per game last season, is back at quarterback. ... The Hawks could go 8-deep at wide receiver and will have Stephon Sellers, Xavier Martinez and Anu Ajibulu as the starters. Julian Bonilla will be the tight end. ... Running back was an open spot. That was until junior Quincy Williams, who played at Hoffman before moving to Florida, came back home to his roots. ... All but one defensive starter saw some action last season. The Hawks secondary of Jayleon Johnson, Xavier Martinez, Brett Phillips, Nate Frank and Trendell Whiting is very talented and athletic. ... Depth won't be an issue as the Hawks project just two players to go both ways. That should keep them fresh and ready for a deep run.
2021 record: 7-4, lost to Neuqua Valley in second round of 8A playoffs
Coach: Corey Olson
Worth noting: The Pirates are looking to raise the flag again after sharing the conference title with Hoffman Estates last year. Palatine returns 11 starters from that team a year ago, including their four top performers at the skill positions. ... Grant Dersnah, who threw for over 1,700 yards last season, will be back at quarterback. ... Dominick Ball, who is a junior and in his third year in the backfield, is getting some serious D-1 interest. ... Thomas Coroneous stepped into a leadership role last season when key injuries at wide receiver. Coroneous caught over 55 passes last season for nearly 700 yards. ... Nate Branch, who is a 6-foot-2, 210 tight end, is also drawing some D-1 interest. ... The Pirates also boast one of the top sophomores in the state in Jaylen Williams. ... Linebacker Daevion Farrow (LB), defensive linemen Tommy Houser and Filip Rolek along with defensive backs JD Wardle and Josh Reiswig will also be factors on defense along with Ryan Wagner and sophomore Trey Widlowski. ... The offensive line will be anchored by Adam Heikinin and Dylan Sarg. Both return from last season.
2021 record: 2-7
Coach: Mark Stilling
Worth noting: Schaumburg has not been to the state playoffs since 2017. But the Saxons are looking to turn things around this year. ... The Saxons will have 12 returning this season. That includes the quartet of three-year starters in linebackers Gabriel Dominguez, Jacob Acevedo and John Sanfilippo and defensive back Jake Peterson. ... Defense should be a strength with defensive lineman Ilia Niku also returning. He will be joined on that front by Javeris Haney and Jimmy Zinchuk. ... The front line of the offense also looks strong with four players with experience in Brandon Madl, Hayden Mores, Jack Chiostri and Dillon Najjar along with Andreas Schwetter. All five are seniors. ... The skill players are athletic and quick. ... Wingbacks Omarion Jones, Anthony Digioia and Daniel Uczarczyk give them a strong run/catch option on the outside while Najari Williams will be at running back and Joey Macaluso at quarterback.
Five Players Worth Watching
Aidan Cyr, Hoffman Estates, QB, Sr. -- Is coming off a season where he threw for over 2,600 yards and 32 touchdowns
Dominick Ball, Palatine, RB, Jr. -Rushed for nearly a 1,000 yards last season
Jaylen Williams, DL, Palatine, So. -- Already has five D1 offer including Minnesota and Missouri
Stephon Sellers, WR/DB, Hoffman Estates, Jr. -- Honorable mention last years a sophomore and poised for a huge season
Peyton Soske, QB, Barrington, Sr. -- Runs and throws the ball well and has the size (6-3, 190) to attract some attention
Five Games Worth Seeing
Week 1: Barrington at Warren
Week 1: St. Charles North at Palatine
Week 3: Maine South at Barrington
Week 6: Hoffman Estates at Barrington
Week 9: Hoffman Estates at Palatine