[Shaw Media file photo]
25. Prairie Ridge (14-0, Class 6A State Champions): Yes, both Samson Evans and Jeff Jenkins are now in Iowa City. But programs like Prairie Ridge don’t usually fall off a cliff. Week 1 opponent: Friday vs. Crystal Lake Central.
24. Bolingbrook (7-3, Class 8A first round): Pound for pound the Raiders might have as much top flight talent as any program in the state. A dynamic running back tandem of Anthony Williams Jr. (Michigan State) and Quentin Pringle (Eastern Kentucky) likely can’t be topped while Cameron Mitchell (Northwestern) is poised to lead a solid defense. Week 1 opponent: Friday vs. Downers Grove South.
23. Barrington (10-1, Class 8A first round): Even with all-stater Ray Niro now at Northwestern, the Broncos will likely do what they always do, crank out wins at a regular rate. Barrington may need to lean on its defense in the early going and will look to linebacker Mark Dilorio to lead the way. Week 1 opponent: Friday at Gurnee Warren.
22. Brother Rice (2-7, No Playoffs): It seems odd to regard a team that netted just two wins a year ago so highly, but the Crusaders have plenty of reasons for optimism. Fifteen starters return to a team that was fiercely competitive in many of its games in a stacked schedule. Week 1 opponent: Friday vs. No. 11 Marist.
21. New Trier (6-4, Class 8A first round): Steady progression for the Trevians could lead to a big stride forward this season. Two-way performer Duke Olges (Northwestern) will be an anchor for the team, while the offense could be diverse with quarterback Carson Ochenshirt and running back Brian Sitzer providing a offensive foundation. Week 1 opponent: Friday at York.
20. St. Rita (9-3, Class 7A quarterfinalist): The depth in the Chicago Catholic league is obvious, but the Mustangs seem to have the components in place to be a factor. Eastern Michigan signee Kempton Shine should help anchor the defensive unit. Week 1 opponent: Friday at Joliet Catholic.
19. Richards (7-3, Class 6A first round): A recent youth movement from the Bulldogs over the past few seasons should pay dividends for them this season. A talented trio of offensive players in quarterback Marquel Porter, running back Leshon Williams and wide receiver Sebastian Castro should make things pretty exciting. Week 1 opponent: Friday vs. Lincoln-Way Central.