Niles West plays in a tough conference featuring traditional powerhouse Maine South and Vanderbilt signee quarterback Charlie Goro last season, as well as several other top quality teams.
"We play in the Central Suburban League South," Shawn Afryl explains. "The conference should be the same as last year. The big three that we have are Maine South, Glenbrook South, and New Trier. Those are probably the hardest teams to play. They're good year in and year out. I think we'll probably be fourth, but there's a chance that if we play solid football we can third or even second this year.
"We finished 3-6 last year and didn't make the playoffs. We'll have more experience, but I'm not sure talent-wise we'll be better than last year. We've got a good group of guys who have been playing together for 4+ years. So that will help us a lot."
To have a successful season, Afryl believes his team will need to give everything it has.
"We're going to need overall solid play. A lot of guys will play double duty and even some special teams on top of that. We need to play a solid four quarters of football no matter if we're up or down. That's the only way we're going to win. We're going to have to outplay teams."
The 6'-3", 300 pound lineman will be playing both ways.
"I'll be playing left guard, and I'll be rotating in at nose tackle. I'm also on extra points right now."
In the end, Afryl just wants to see his team be successful and is willing to sacrifice personal glory for the needs of the team.
"I just want to win. That's my personal goal. That's the beauty of committing so early. I don't have to worry about being a superstar on the field. I can help others out so we can make the team better as a whole. I want to win. I'm tired of losing and I'm ready to win."
Afryl has had a busy summer, not only working to get better for the upcoming season but also for his college career.
"My team had workouts during the summer. We had lifting four days a week, and I did agility and foot drills four days a week. In July, we started with helmet and shoulder pad practices. Now we're in doubles. I did everything the team did, and sometimes I would stay for extra sessions if I felt like I needed it.
"I also am doing shotgun snapping and started longsnapping yesterday. I'm going to work on all my snapping during the offseason when I have more time."
My team is pretty much out of shotgun. We call it the pistol. I don't think we have a play yet under center. I'm also working on shotgun snapping because Illinois sees me at the center position, and the shotgun is a key part of their offense."
When not practicing and playing football, Afryl is hard at work studying and doing his homework.
"I'm still working on graduating early and enrolling in the spring so I'll be there for the spring practices. I decided I wanted to enroll about a month after I committed. I just wanted to get a head start and make myself better.
Plus, I didn't want to be bumming around town and I'd only be taking enough classes required to stay in school. I'd rather not waste time and get a head start."
The offensive lineman also has a major and a career in mind.
"I want to major in secondary education. I'd like to teach history, sociology, and other social science classes in high school as well as become a coach. I'd like to minor in political science if I will be able to work that into my schedule."
Due to a busy summer, Afryl has not had time to make the trip down to campus.
"I was not able to get to campus. I've been real busy all summer. I'll be going down to games when I can and hopefully, when I find out if I have my grades in order, I'll be going down to have my parents sign me up and sign my letter of intent."
Since committing, Afryl has talked to some of his future teammates.
"I talked to Andy [Gallik] for a few months leading up to my commitment. He was asking me what I thought about the school. He took my feedback and eventually committed.
"I've talked to Chandler [Whitmer] and I've talked to Corey [Cooper] the few times that I've seen him. Those are the main guys I talk to. I've talked to Dex Mac [Dexter MacDonald] a few times through Facebook and all that."
Despite committing in April, Afryl still does receive some mail from other schools.
"I still get the usual chain mail. In the spring, schools would come in and look at me. I was told that if anything happened with Illinois, I would still have a spot at certain schools."
If Afryl can enroll early, it would be extremely beneficial to his college career. Current starter Jeff Allen enrolled early his senior year, and the extra semester on campus allowed him to make tremendous strides that eventually led to starting his freshman year. Afryl has the desire and fire to win, something that can't be taught.