2008 Boys Season Preview
By Aaron Brown
These are a lot of
questions heading into the 2008 season. With many of the top players
graduating (none of the First Team All-State players return), many teams
will likely spend the first few weeks of the season trying to figure out
where they stand. The same can be said for this year's preseason rankings,
as every team from the Top 25 has a chance to end up at state. Here are
the top teams based on what we know about them heading into the season:
The Top 25
There should be no
question that Fenwick is the top team in 2008. Returning starters
Andrew McKernin and Chris Wendt look to lead the Friars to their fifth
straight title, while brothers Brian and Dan Barron should also make a big
impact this season. Matt Napleton returns in goal, while Will Schulenberg,
Mike Berkemeyer, and freshman Conor Brown could also contribute for the
2. Brother Rice
Coghlan's on offense and Joe Frantz in goal will be the biggest issues for
the Crusaders, but they do return a handful of experienced and talented
players like Tony Mayer, Matt Stelnicki, Sean Davis, Ryan Scott, Matt Joslyn,
and JJ Marren. With their system, Brother Rice will likely be one of the
top contenders for a state title in 2008.
The Patriots will
have one of the strongest starting lineups this season as they return
several starters from last year's state run, but they will need to replace
the production of Dmitriy Simonoff. Greg Spigelman, Denis Kuznetsov, Sean
Madden, Jamie Clark, Duncan Partridge and Brad Feng all return, while goalie Andrey Lomskiy
should be even better in 2008. The Patriots also expect bigger
contributions from junior Ali Khan on the offensive end.
return most of their starting lineup, have a lot of depth, and have one of
the top goaltenders in Tyler Kelley. That should be enough to make them
the team to beat in the West, but they will have a lot of competition from
the other Naperville teams. Ben Reasons and Bobby Rickert should make a
big impact, while sophomores Mark Menis and Ryan Stanley should give the
starting lineup a boost. Mark Guiliani, Max Saltzman, and Zach Sejna also
return for the Redhawks, while Josh Jalesky, Chris Canene, and Chris DePew
give them plenty of depth.
Zach Van Swol
comes off a highly productive season and looks to lead the Griffins to
their fourth straight trip to state. His brother, Kyler Van Swol, will
also be a force on the offensive end, as the two combined to score over
200 goals last season. Also returning are Karl Zoellick, Kevin Kubik, and Mike Reilly,
while Nate Puskaric takes over for Ryan Golden in the net.
6. Oak Park
The Huskies are a
team on the rise, with returning starters Tommy Poulos, Doug Fischer, and Dylan O'Connell
giving them a handful of options heading into 2008. Chris Linger and Kevin
Hallman also return, while Eric Hallman could fill the void left in goal
after the loss of Isaac Rothenbaum to graduation last year. The Huskies
also have a ton of depth, with Andrew Verticchio, Thomas Gumbel, Preston Williams,
Colin Sharpe, Nate Williams, and freshman Luke O'Connell all expected
to contribute this season.
Conor Handley is
one of the top players in Illinois, so he should give the Huskies a
chance to return to the state finals once again this season. Senior goalie
Christian Flessner emerged at the end of 2007 and should make a difference
in the net, while the speed of Jackson Hill also gives the Huskies a big
advantage. The key for North will be finding replacements for the five
seniors that graduated, including Alex Buck. Jon Kuhrt, Matt Johnson, and David Lichter
all return for the Huskies in 2008.
The Warriors will
have to replace the defensive production of Kyle Drake to be a Top 10 team
this year, but they have a solid core of returning players that could do
just that. Jim Zuponeck leads the way for Waubonsie, but he'll have a lot
of help from Kurt Neaderheiser, Adam Kozak, and Jack Poletto. Max Martin
returns in goal and could be a difference-maker this season. Newcomers
Tyler Hunt and Jeff Sellers could make a quick impact, while the Warriors
could see more improvement from Kendall Drake in 2008 as well.
Sandburg has all
the ingredients in place for a successful season in 2008. They return one
of the top all-around players in the state in Max Kryzminski, one of the
better goalies in Robert Pozdol, plus experienced starters Jordan Derbas
and Chris Bonavolanto. Cody Siemeck should give them a boost on the
offensive end, while lefties Jake Jenkot and Joe Kamper should make major
contributions this season for the Eagles.
John Mikuzis is a
force on the offensive end, so he gives the Wildcats a chance to win
almost every game. The key for Neuqua will be finding a lineup that can
keep defenses from shutting him down. Freshman AJ Quebbeman could make an
immediate impact, while Brendan Wiley, Michael Rooney, and Mark Hillstrom
could play a bigger role in 2008. Goalie Brad Kay has shown consistent
improvement and should help on the defensive end.
Peter Bruton and Kevin Tully
lead the way for Lyons, and they'll have to pick up the slack on the
offensive end after the loss of several key seniors. Spencer Ellison
should be one of the better goalies in the state this year, and he gives
the Lions a chance to be a possible Top 10 team by season's end. Patrick McNichols
should play an increased role this season, while Patrick Weigand and Josh Dunn
could also contribute for the Lions in 2008.
12. St Patrick
entire starting lineup will be a tough task for the Shamrocks, including
top players James Ridgeway and goalie Pat Szyska. However, St Patrick has
always boasted a talented group of younger players, so expect
Steve Collins, Pat Sumrall,
Pat Lee, and Jeremy Trinchere to lead the Shamrocks back into the Top 10 by the
end of the season.
13. St Rita
The surprise team
of 2008 could very well be St Rita, who returns nearly everyone to a team
loaded with experience. Luke Ginger and Ruben Velasquez led the Mustangs
last year and should continue to excel, while goalie Sean Kurth, Mike McArdle, DJ Kopec, Mitch Condon,
and Ric Rivera also return.
The Ramblers lost
the core of a team that made it to the state semifinals, so it may take a
few weeks before they start to emerge as a contender this season. Even so, Evan Rourke
should have a breakout season as the go-to-guy for Loyola, while Jack Shehan
should also play a bigger role in 2008. Loyola will look for Sean Hulseman, Brendan McLaughlin,
and Paul Lambert to make positive contributions this season.
15. New Trier
New Trier lost
several starters and most of their depth, so it may take awhile for the
Trevians to put things together in 2008. Bill Farmer should have a
breakout year as a junior, while Ben Spulber, Johnny Hilbrant, and Joe
Jeffers should also play important roles this season. Nate Bailey should
have a fine season in goal for the Trevians, while Thomas Beadle and Aaron Palmer
may also contribute for New Trier this year.
The Mustangs will
challenge Stevenson once again in 2008, as they feature the strong senior duo of Ricky Lukacs
and Mike McClure. TJ Klink is also expected to make positive contributions
this season, while goalie Kevin Coughlin showed tremendous improvement
last season and should be tough in goal for Mundelein. Mike Mihel and Pete Mandas
also return and could see a lot of playing time, while younger players Frank Lukacs
and Will Davidson could also play an important role for the Mustangs.
The Vikings could
be a dangerous team, as they return a great deal of their starting lineup
that was constantly improving over the course of 2007. Greg Nelson leads
the way, but he'll have help from Dave Oliver on the offensive end and Dave Kuchta
on the defensive side. Griffin O'Neil should also add a boost to the
offense, while sophomore
should make a big difference in just his second high school season. Aaron Lowe
and Matt Shirer also return for the Vikings.
With Grant Wilkie
and Tim Wickes returning, the Romans have two solid overall players that
could help the team get back to state in 2008. The key for Latin will be
to find 2-3 role players that can help fill out the starting lineup. Conor Allen
and Tim Barry also return for the Romans.
The Wildkits are
led by an experienced group of seniors, including Ben McBratney and Charlie Krause,
so they could be another team that challenges for a state berth in 2008.
Seniors Jon Strunk and Steven Devine should also make a positive
contribution for Evanston, while Matt Wich should be even better in his
sophomore season. Juniors Sam Rosen, Alex Lajoie, and Robert Bansberg also
return for the Wildkits.
20. St Ignatius
The Wolfpack lost
a highly productive graduating class, but they still have talent with Garrett Mulchrone, Chris Tracz,
and Cameron Hecht returning in the field. Alex Gestevich was excellent in
the net last year and should return to form to give Ignatius a chance to
get back to state in 2008.
return for the Thunderbolts, as Ryan Joritz, Justin Rentner, and Eric Korzeniowski
look to make Andrew a contender in 2008. Matt Szarzynski takes over in
goal, Chris Ihnat provides experience, and juniors Matt Kmiecik and Marius Malkevicius
could make a big impact this season. Mike Roon and Mike Wagonblott, both
sophomores, are expected to contribute as well this year.
Ryan Oldendorf and
Ben Bentley return to give the Porters a chance for their best season in
2008. Pat Cavanaugh, Scott Targosz, Kevin Moran, Mike Pedroni,
and Bob Chavez all return to give Lockport a strong overall lineup.
Chris DeLetto will
be a force on the offensive end for GBS, giving them a chance to compete
in the Central Suburban League. Ben Hengels and Chris Landgren also return
Zach Leboza and Danny Lejeune
combine to make the Wildcats a dangerous team in 2008. Senior goalie Jimmy Palac
and juniors Ben Glick and Andrew Tillman also return for Libertyville.
looks to continue to lead McHenry on the offensive end, while Jon Lesniak
provides the Warriors with a stopper in goal. Graham Olson and Reilly Shanahan
also return for McHenry in 2008.