Football previews 2023: Scouting the MSL East
2022 record: 4-6, lost in first round 7A playoffs to Mt. Carmel
Coach: Jeff Vlk
Worth noting: Smart, experienced and talented are words that can be used to describe this year's Buffalo Grove squad. The Bison have 20 players that are near a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. They also return 18 starters from a team that was the first school in IHSA history to qualify for the playoffs with a 4-5 record. ... WR/LB Anthony Palano, who has committed to South Dakota State, is one of the main cogs on both sides of the ball. Jacob Niedojadlo (TE/LB), Brayden Wong (WR/DB), Caden Watson (OL/DL), Brody Mac (OL/LB) and Samuel Cho (WR/DB) are also returning two-way players while Ray King (OL/DL), who didn't start last year, will also go both ways. ... The Bison are also buoyed by the return of Payton Diaz at quarterback. Diaz threw for nearly 2,000 yards last season while rushing for 18 touchdowns. ... Matthew Maradkal, who saw some snaps last year at running back, will pick up most of the load there this year. John Saracco, Ryan Reid, Armando Campo and Andrew Glenn will be upfront to block for him. ... Hardidar Singh, Jordan Pangle and Ryan Guretz will be on defensive front. Matija Scekic and Vukasin Dejkovic at linebacker while Tyler Baker, Anthony Bernardo, Alex Branas and Trevor Catlett at defensive back are other key players to watch.
2022 record: 10-1, MSL East champs, lost in 2nd round in 7A playoffs to Batavia
Coach: Tom Nelson
Worth noting: The Huskies are looking to spit that bad taste that was left in their mouths after their season-ending loss to Batavia in the 7A playoffs last year. But with the possibility of five D-1 players on the roster this season, there is plenty of mouthwash at Hersey. ... Northwestern commit Carson Grove, who had 1,483 all-purpose yards last year and 15 touchdowns along with 35 tackles and three interceptions, leads the way for the Huskies. Meanwhile bruising tackle Will Nolan, who is headed to Iowa next year, anchors the offensive line. ... Colton Gumino, who split time at quarterback last season, is a pure thrower. The junior has piqued interest from D-1 schools and has five offers. ... Junior tight end Logan Farrell, who started last season, also has interested D-1 schools. He currently has seven offers. ... Andrew Pignatao, a senior linebacker, will key the defense. He has several FCS offers. ... The Huskies, who return 10 starters, will also count on Gus Damann (OL), Reese Settersten (DB), Brandon Pflomm (LB), Nasir McKenzie (RB), Ethan Sather (DL) and Chuck Meister (RB/LB), who was an all-conference selection last year. ... Newcomers include Pavle Jovanovic (OL), Grant Kalata (WR), Brandon Jenkins (DB), Gunner Deaton (WR/DB), Jackson Hupp (TE), Gerogie Naegele (DL), Logan Clark (WR/LB), Luke Casey (WR/DB), Noah Loch (WR/DB) and Sebastian Debicki (LB).
Coach: Daniel O'Donnell
2022 record: 7-3, lost in first round 7A playoffs to Hoffman Estates
Worth noting: Daniel O'Donnell is taking over at Elk Grove after the Grenadiers had their best season in 11 years. The Grens have 12 returning starters, six on each side of the ball. ... The offense averaged nearly 30 points per game last season. New quarterback Danny Pasterski should have plenty of weapons to choose from ...nning back Daryl Hunt, who did see some action last season, is back. The Grens also have a trio of wide receivers returning in Lucas Rogers, Dominic Belmonte and Matthew Martorano along with tight end Dylan Berkowitz who is a junior and a multisport athlete. ... The offensive line also has experience. Mo Burt will anchor the line along with TJ Johnson and Mikey Milovich, who saw action last season, and Jayden Erevia and Spencer Tuina. ... Linebackers Logan Tosterud and Joe Coveliers, who has an offer from Rose-Hulman, are both three-year starters and the keys to the 3-4 defense. Carter Bourget and Berkowitz will also play linebacker. ... Jeremiah Pickett flipped over from the offensive side to lead the defensive line along with David Sanchez and Ethan Otano. ... Hunt, Rogers and Belmonte will stay on the field and switch from wide receiver to defensive back and will be joined by Nick Jimenez.
Coach: Dan DeBoeuf
2022 record: 9-2, lost to St. Rita in 7A quarterfinals
Worth noting: Success has been a way of life for Prospect. Especially the last five seasons under Dan DeBeouf with the Knights qualifying four of those years for the playoffs and winning the East in the COVID year when there were no playoffs. ... That type of consistency will be key as Prospect will look to replace many of its key cogs from the last two seasons. The Knights return 11 starters, five on offense and six on defense. ... After seeing more and more action near the end of last season, Noah Easter will be the featured running back. He will operate behind returning OL starters Mallachi Tollier (6-3, 290), Tommy Johl (6-4, 285) and (6-3, 260). ... DeBeouf has had a history of great quarterbacks and the Knights hope that Jack Skoog will be the next in a long line. Skoog, who is a junior, is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds. He will have just one returning wide receiver in Nick Carlucci while Nate Tader should also be a factor. ... The middle of the Knights' 3-5-3 defense all return: linebackers Grady Catanzano, Brock Clay and Michael Matuzak along with LB/DB JT Zei and Charlie Knee. Nico Chaves and Lucas Thomas will be stepping up in the secondary as well. ... Crash Davis will anchor the defensive line along with Jaedon Gardener and Ben Ukmata.
2022 record: 4-5
Coach: Sam Baker
Worth noting: Rolling Meadows is looking to begin a new run. The Mustangs had their string of 10 consecutive playoffs seasons broken last year when they fell just a bit short of qualifying. ... Ben Petermann is coming a terrific season where he had 63 catches for 985 yards and 15 touchdowns. It earned him honorable mention all-state for 7A. ... Petermann will have a new quarterback throwing to him this season. Senior Colin Ford and sophomore Joe Brigham are locked in a battle for the starting job. ... Besides Petermann, they will be able to throw to seniors Anthony Sansonetti (22 catches, 183 yards) and Ryan Chaney (22 catches, 166 yards) and sophomore Jack Anderson. Peyton Wiles (12 receptions, 137 yards) and Sean Kerr will line up at tight end. ... Harvey Goodwin and Jack Stollfus return to help button down the offensive line along with David Prado, Liam Riley, Lucas Brickman and Luis Carrillo. Running back will be shared by Damarion Washington and Vinny Piccolo. ... Defensively, the Mustangs return just two starters in Jakub Krul and Washington. But with Washington figuring on carrying the ball, Krul is the only true starter returning. ... Gabe Cherwin, who is also a great kicker along with Adam Greazel, will also be in the defensive backfield. Mikolaj Skrobecki, Piccolo, Wiles and Kerr will be at linebacker. Nick Labbe, Stollfus and Harvey Goodwin will make up the defensive line.
2022 record: 3-6
Coach: JeMarcus Moody
Worth noting: JeMarcus Moody takes over a program that has more than doubled in size to 80 players this season. However, it is a young program with 11 seniors and six returning starters. ... Patrick Tinsley (WR/DB), Phillip Yoon (LB) and Rafael Flores (DL) are the only returning starting seniors. Junior starters that return are Marco Mercado (OL/DL), Angel Jimenez (OL/DL) and Joey Nitti (TE/DL). ... Miguel Guerrero, who is a senior, will be a huge factor for the Wildcats on both sides of the ball. He will be the featured running back and will bounce over to play linebacker. ... Moody has not decided on a starting quarterback as of yet. Senior Ashton Schneider and junior Justin Ghibea are battling for that role. ... Other key contributors are seniors Christopher Guzman (WR/DB), Victor Montelongo (OL/LB) and Filippo Schiavoni (WR/DB). Key underclassmen are Hunter Adams (OL) and sophomores Damian Maldonado OL/DL), Nicholas Montesinos (LB) and Christian Campos (WR/DB).
Five players to watch:
Carson Grove, WR/DB, Hersey -- Committed to Northwestern
Will Nolan, OT, Hersey -- 6-6, 285 pounds, committed to Iowa
Anthony Palano, WR/LB, Buffalo Grove -- Committed to South Dakota State
Ben Petermann, Rolling Meadows, WR -- 985 yards and 18 touchdowns last season
Jack Skoog, QB, Prospect -- Next in line as great Prospect QB at 6-3, 185 pounds
Five games not to miss:
Week 1: New Trier at Hersey. Week 1: Lyons at Prospect; Week 2: Prospect at Barrington; Week 5: Hersey at Buffalo Grove; Week 6: Prospect at Hersey