We're less than two weeks from Opening Night of football around the Tri-Cities, and Coach Sly has a question (and an answer, naturally) for each week of the regular season.
1. Who is the best team in the area?
Batavia. Or is it Kaneland?
It'd be easier to answer that one if the teams were playing each other as was once rumored, but as it stands, both teams again look like they'll be at the top of the heap around the Tri-Cities.
2. How about the St. Charles teams?
Both North and East look like they could very well be playoff-caliber, but a lot will hinge on how they fare in non-conference play. North's lineplay and East's skill position guys should be fun to watch.
3. Uh, what about Geneva?
Sly's noticed a discernible lack of buzz about the once-mighty Vikings. Geneva has been knocked off its conference perch by Batavia the past couple years, and the Bulldogs don't appear to want to let the Vikings back up. Combine that with a brutal early schedule, and Geneva is very much laying low for now.
Perhaps the Vikes will channel an Us Against The World mentality constructively and surprise some people.
4. How are the QB battles shaking out?
What QB battles? This is the least dramatic preseason in recent memory when it comes to signal-callers, with pretty much every team in the area content with an incumbent QB.
5. What about the SCC?
In the last year before the SCC goes bye bye in football, look for ACC to take another step forward, Aurora Christian to take a step back (but still be plenty dangerous) and Marmion and St. Francis to return to their playoff ways after down 2012 seasons.
6. Who's the best running back in the area?
Too close to call, but St. Francis' James Butler has the best chance to go D-I, FWIW. Batavia's Scaccia and Kaneland's Balluff are also going to run wild.
7. Which team has the best defense?
Sly'll give that one to Batavia (strong line, a stud MLB and very good athletes in the secondary), but beware the North Stars' D as well.
8. Biggest shoes to fill?
Here are two, one for each foot: Joe Hoscheit's in the middle of the Fighting Saints' defense (especially without a dominant line, linebacker play is critical for East) and Bobby Hess' in the Geneva backfield (could this year be the end of Geneva's annual shock-and-awe at running back?)
9. Best week of the season?
That's an easy one: Week 3 = Batavia/Geneva and St. Charles East/St. Charles North.
Then again, Week 1 is always special, and Kaneland-Morris has turned into a memorable way to bring down the curtain on the regular season.
Bottom line, the season's going to be a blast, like always.