Boone Grove Wolves
Coach: Dan Kukulski, third season
Last season: 9-3 (4-2 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 37-19 to Whiting in the Class 2A sectional championship
Top returning offensive players: RB Brae'ton Vann (1,702 rushing yards, 196 receiving yards, 28 TDs), RB Christian Lawson (223 rushing yards, 5 TDs).
Top returning defensive players: LB Andrew Eriks (113 tackles, 11.1 tackles per game, 25 tackles for loss, 2 sacks), LB Austin Lemar (62 tackles, 5.2 tackles per game, 15 tackles for loss), DT Kyle Colpitts (55 tackles, 4.6 tackles per game, 9 tackles per loss).
What you should know: With 32 players on the roster and 14 of them being seniors, the Wolves are an experienced group that is ready to make an impact in their final year of high school football.
"This is our 10th year of football at Boone Grove and for the seniors, now it's personal," Boone Grove coach Dan Kukulski said. "We've been here for 10 years. Now it's time to do something."
Two seniors expected to carry much of the load this year are star running back Vann and quarterback Jake Mayersky. Mayersky was slated for a big role in Boone Grove's offense last year, but he missed all but two games due to an injury.
Coach: Richard Good, third year
Last season: 6-3 (4-2 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 43-12 to West Lafayette in the Class 3A sectional first round
Top returning offensive players: QB Mark Flores (16-35), 45.7 percent completion percentage, 247 yards, 5 TDs), RB C.J. Cooper (268 rushing yards, 3 TDs).
Top returning defensive players: LB Jeremiah Barry, DL Kyle Bradley (missed last season with torn ACL), LB Tino Ponce (37 tackles, 6.2 tackles per game).
What you should know: When Good first took the Calumet job in 2017, the Warriors were coming off a pair of three-win seasons and they would win another three games under Good in his first year. Things started to take shape for the Warriors last season as they won their first three games of the year and then added three more victories to double their previous win total.
Now the next step is to advance in the postseason, a place where Calumet hasn't won a game since the 2014 season when the Warriors went 9-3. Good is confident he has the pieces in place to take the next step.
"This is our year," Good said. "This is the year to see how well we have built this thing up. We've talked about goals and we've talked about playing the games that are on our schedule. We want to compete for that sectional title."
Coach: Adam Musielak, first year
Last season: 8-3 (7-0 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 45-14 to Lowell in the Class 4A sectional semifinals
Top returning offensive players: QB Carson Crowe (69-141) 48.9 percent completion percentage, 945 yards, 9 passing TDs, 751 rushing yards, 9 rushing TDs), OL Rashod Shaw (15 career starts), WR Rondell Latiker (6 catches, 166 receiving yards, 2 TDs)
Top returning defensive players: DT Cole Reitz (30 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), LB Ryan Davenport (47 tackles, 5.2 tackles per game, 6 tackles for loss).
What you should know: Crowe exploded on the scene in a big way as a sophomore last season as the quarterback threw for nine touchdowns and ran for another nine while garnering 751 rushing yards and nearly 1,000 passing yards.
Crowe won't be the only weapon for first-year coach Musielak. The former Griffith assistant has had to restock many of his skill position players since taking over the job and he's watched a spirited competition take place between juniors Robert Gordon and Brian Bolden for the starting running back position.
"Enough people know about Carson now," Musielak said. "What I'm excited about is the where the distribution, or should I say, the contributions are going to come from with the skill players. We're going to spread the ball around a lot. We have a good problem right now with two talented backs. It's a healthy competition."
Hanover Central Wildcats
Coach: Brian Parker, second year
Last season: 5-6 (3-4 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 44-12 to Andrean in the Class 3A sectional semifinals
Top returning offensive players: QB Tyler Fruehling (95-204), 46.6 percent completion percentage, 1,300 yards, 16 TDs), RB Brett Driscoll (498 yards, 8 TDs), WR Jack Kuiper (13 catches, 188 yards, 3 TDs)
Top returning defensive players: DE Michael Simon (66 tackles, 6.0 tackles per game, 12 tackles for loss, 5 sacks), LB Brett Driscoll (101 tackles, 9.2 tackles per game, 7 tackles for loss).
What you should know: Parker has a little bit of history on his side in his second year coaching Hanover Central. Pete Koulianos is the only other coach in the program's young history to coach a second year for the Wildcats and he saw the program go from six wins to 10 wins in his second season.
Parker would be thrilled with a double-digit victory campaign after he has finally had a full calendar year to work with his players. The second-year coach will lean heavily on senior Fruehling for a second straight season. Fruehling threw for 16 touchdowns last season and ran for another four scores.
"We've spent some time with the guys now and we've got our strength and conditioning program in place," Parker said. "We're seeing the gains from that already. To have Tyler back, it's great because there's some familiarity to what we're doing. It's not all new."
Lake Station Eagles
Coach: Jason Wolfe, third year
Last season: 0-9 (0-6 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 47-0 to Boone Grove in the Class 2A sectional semifinals
Top returning offensive players: QB Nate Dukich (30-64) 46.9 percent completion percentage, 322 yards, 3 TDs), FB Joey Kroledge (254 rushing yards, 1 TD).
Top returning defensive players: LB Issak Cuellar (19 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery), DE Jeff Deckard (11 tackles).
What you should know: The Eagles didn't win a game last season and were held scoreless in six of their final seven games of the season. That was last season.
Third-year coach Wolfe is back with a roster of nearly 40 kids that are looking to turn the page and help Lake Station earn its first winning season in more than 20 years.
"The kids aren't focusing on last year; it's over," Wolfe said. "Things are going well. The kids are working, we're filling out the younger programs and the juniors and seniors are very positive. Working with them, they know what to expect this year. Last year is in the past."
River Forest Ingots
Coach: Joe O'Connell, second year
Last season: 2-8 (1-5 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 46-34 to Roosevelt in the Class 2A sectional first round
Top returning offensive players: RB Jeremiah Walker (577 yards, 4 TDs), RB Ayden Hernandez (398 yards, 10 TDs), QB Joey Ondo (27-51) 52.9 percent completion percentage, 444 yards, 8 TDs).
Top returning defensive players: LB Ayden Hernandez (11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss), DL Matt Espinoza (6 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss).
What you should know: Walker began the long road back from a serious knee injury last year after he tore his ACL in basketball as a sophomore. Walker split time between running back and quarterback, but there was something missing.
"Last year Jeremiah was still recovering and you could see it," O'Connell said. "You felt that he was thinking about things. He never wanted to do anything without his knee brace."
Things changed for Walker during track season when he suddenly shed the brace and completed the mental part of his physical comeback. O'Connell expects Walker to be the primary running back this season while also getting the senior some reps to spell sophomore quarterback Ondo.
"He just let it go during track season and then into the summer with us," O'Connell said. "It's like he's a different player."
South Central Satellites
Coach: Buzz Schoff, third year
Last season: 3-8 (1-5 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 42-25 to North Judson in the Class A sectional semifinals
Top returning offensive players: RB/WR Jake Osburn (82 rushing yards, 24 catches, 449 receiving yards), WR Zach Christy (29 catches, 536 yards, 3 TDs), QB Brady Glisic (8 catches, 63 receiving yards).
Top returning defensive players: DB Zach Christy (89 tackles, 8.1 tackles per game, 2 INT), DE Brecken Krieger (54 tackles, 6.0 tackles per game), DT Logan Notaro (51 tackles, 4.6 tackles per game, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 sack).
What you should know: South Central had one of the most prolific passing attacks in the area last year on the arm of Kyle Schmack. The graduated senior threw for over 1,400 yards last season. With Schmack now playing baseball at Valparaiso University, third-year coach Schoff is retooling some things on offense.
Osburn will shift from primary receiver to running back, where he had just 82 rushing yards last season. Christy served as South Central's tight end last year, but he'll move to receiver and look to build on his 29-catch campaign from a year ago.
If Glisic can slide into the quarterback position and a retooled offensive line gels together, South Central has the chance to make some noise in the GSSC race this season.
Coach: Adam Hudak, third season
Last season: 4-5 (2-4 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 34-14 to Hanover Central in the Class 3A sectional first round
Top returning offensive players: WR Hunter Reif (22 catches, 224 yards), OT Aidan Colson (20 career starts), QB Bryce Catherman (237 rushing yards, 1 TDs).
Top returning defensive players: LB Noah Bolanowski (57 tackles, 6.3 tackles per game), DB Riley Henslee (41 tackles, 4.6 tackles per game, 1 INT), DE Jesse Smith (7 tackles, 1 sack).
What you should know: Hudak enters his third season in charge of the Wheeler football program and the former Valparaiso University football player is encouraged for the start of the season. The Bearcats lost some talent to graduation, but Hudak is thrilled with the attitude of the players he has returning.
Colson and Smith are both 3-year starters that will anchor the offensive and defensive lines. The seniors have both been named captains along with Bolanowski.
"The kids know what they're getting out of me and I know what I'm getting out of them," Hudak said. "The leadership and team morale is pretty high right now. This is my squad now. These are the guys. I've been waiting for this year since I got here."
Coach: Brett Jennings, first year
Last season: 12-1 (6-0 Greater South Shore Conference)
2018 postseason: Lost 42-13 to Bremen in the Class A regional championship
Top returning offensive players: QB Steven Connelly (29-50), 58.0 percent completion percentage, 787 yards, 10 TDs), RB Diandre Marshall (132 yards, 1 TD), OL Nathaniel Terrazas.
Top returning defensive players: DE Emiliano Rodriguez (52 tackles, 4.3 tackles per game, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks), DB Zach Williamson (27 tackles, 2.5 tackles per game), LB Fabian Taylor (50 tackles, 4.2 tackles per game, 7.0 tackles for loss, 2 sacks).
What you should know: There might be a new coach in charge of the Whiting football program for the first time since 1994, but the expectations remain the same for the Oilers. Jennings, Whiting's longtime defensive coordinator, was named the new head coach in February after Jeff Cain retired following a stellar 24 seasons.
Jennings is no stranger to Whiting, having played under Cain with the Oilers and then spending the last 16 seasons on the coaching staff.
"We're always wanting to compete for a state title around here and we want to win all the trophy games," Jennings said. "That starts with Clark and the 119th street trophy. Then when we get into conference play, there's a trophy there. We want all those games."