Behold, the annual Prep Zone prediction column for the year ahead:
The much-anticipated rematch between the St. Charles East and St. Charles North boys basketball teams is bruising and low scoring, decided by a put-back in the final minute. Tip to the Saints – get a body on Jack Callaghan, one of the area’s most rugged rebounders and an underrated player in general.
The Coffey brothers combine for 11 3-pointers in a Batavia boys basketball upset victory.
The Geneva girls basketball team wins a Class 4A sectional championship behind one of the state’s most imposing frontcourts. When you have the luxury to play Sidney Santos at a guard spot, you’ve got size to spare.
St. Charles East sends a huge contingent to the wrestling state tournament and produces a pair of individual state champs.
The Mooseheart boys basketball team advances to the 1A Final Four in Peoria, where the Ramblers rewrite the state records for shot-blocking.
Geneva wins its first boys basketball regional since stoplights were installed on Randall Road, as gritty guard Chris Parrilli comes through with a clutch defensive play to seal the title.
The St. Charles East and St. Charles North softball teams go a combined 35-3 in the month as a pair of bona fide Class 4A state championship contenders engage in a spring-long game of one-upsmanship.
St. Charles North baseball’s Cory Wright and Jack Dennis hit back-to-back home runs on back-to-back days as the North Stars offense shakes off its 2013 doldrums.
A Geneva girls soccer defense led by veteran stalwarts Annie Waldoch and Molly Stanfa help the Vikings record five straight shutouts.
Kaneland track do-it-all dynamo Kyle Carter leads the Knights to a top-three state team finish in Class 2A.
St. Charles East boys tennis powerhouse Jasper Koenen celebrates the end of his successful reign as student body president by advancing to the final day of the state tournament for the second straight year.
Batavia caps a memorable 2013-14 school year with a state berth in baseball, powered by lineup linchpins Laren Eustace and Micah Coffey. Eustace’s inside-the-park home run in the supersectional sends the Bulldogs to state in style.
A preps-to-pros detour: Shawon Dunston, Jr., the son of former Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston, sees his 16-game hitting streak come to an end for the Kane County Cougars. The streak ends when Dunston imitates his old man by flailing at a 1-2 slider in the dirt.
Anthony Scaccia, Evan Kurtz and Legend Smith have graduated, but St. Charles North’s Dom Sidari and Marmion’s Jordan Glasgow make it clear from the opening kick that the area still has plenty of talent at running back, as they each run for 200-plus yards on opening night.
Kaneland girls volleyball’s Ellie Dunn sets an unofficial school record by forcing defenders to fight back tears in four straight matches after whistling kills that catch various parts of their faces. Duck, ladies.
Squaring off in Week 8, Batavia and Geneva play the most hotly contested football game against one another in several seasons in a game that determines the UEC River championship.
Part of me thinks Geneva snaps its skid in the rivalry in 2014, but barely a month beyond watching Batavia cruise to a 6A state championship, I’m not quite ready to pick against the Bulldogs.
The Geneva girls volleyball team advances to the Class 4A state championship match behind ferocious play at the net from dynamic sophomores Grace Loberg and Ally Barrett and senior Maddie Courter, reinforced by dandy defense from libero Kelsey Wicinski.
In its first season under new coach Dave Beebe, Aurora Christian wins another 3A football state championship as quarterback Austin Bray has Division I recruiters panting.
The Geneva boys basketball team closes the 2014 portion of its schedule 14-1 as the frontcourt of Nate Naviagato, Mike Landi and Loudon Vollbrecht overwhelm the opposition.
The hottest Christmas gift around the Tri-Cities is a new And1 mixtape highlight collage of St. Charles East senior point guard Cole Gentry making defenders crumple to the floor as he crosses them over on his way to the rim.
Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or