Coach Chad Hetlet has done an outstanding job at Glenbard West High School. His team gave Wheaton Warrenville South everything it could handle in the 7A state championship game, only to lose 31-24.
"It was definitely a tough loss," Hetlet remembers. "You get that far and go into overtime and then a double overtime, it's a tough situation for sure.
"They were two similar teams. There weren't a lot of big-time Division I players. Both programs have produced some good players, but we had kids who executed very well, played hard and physical. We're not ashamed of anybody, that's for sure."
Still, there were reasons to feel good about the season and the future.
"We took it one step further than the year previous. We were in the state semifinals the year before and the state championship this year. We sure wish we'd ended up winning the game, but we're very happy with the way the kids played and performed during the offseason to get better.
"We're not gonna hang our heads because it was a great season. We'll just have to work hard to get back and get to that level again."
Glenbard West has returning a top rated offensive lineman in Jordan Walsh, and an explosive upcoming junior defensive lineman in Tommy Schott. They also have several other top performers who could earn college scholarships.
Walsh, rated four stars by Scout, is becoming a national recruit. He has offers from Illinois and several other schools.
"Jordan is a special player. He's a very athletic offensive lineman. We play him at tackle, but he's gonna be recruited as a guard. He already has a handful of Big 10 offers, and he's ranked high in several publications around the country.
"He's a real good kid. He's physical. He's kind of cut in the same mold as a kid we had a couple years ago, Chris Watt."
Hetlet describes Walsh's best assets as a player.
"His suddenness off the ball, his quickness in getting to the second level. His pass blocking is as good as anybody I've ever seen. He's got great feet and the ability to finish the block. He's got a real mean streak and finishes blocks real well."
While it is early in the process, the 6'-4", 270 pounder doesn't appear to be favoring any school.
"I don't think so. It's so early, I think he's still wide open. I don't think he's leaning in any direction at all. With the offers he's received, he's excited to see what's gonna happen."
Tommy Schott could be a future superstar according to Hetlet. He already has an Illinois offer.
"He's a very athletic defensive end. He starts with the varsity basketball team as a sophomore. He's been just an extremely good athlete for us. He had two sacks in the championship game and 14 sacks on the season. He did a real good job as a sophomore against some of the top offenses in the state.
"He's 6'-3", 270. He'll be a tackle at the next level. His athleticism is unbelieveable for his size. His quickness off the ball is amazing. His football IQ and instincts are very good. Illinois is his only offer for sure right now. Everyone's been in eyeing him up."
Hetlet mentions four other upcoming prospects with potential.
"We have a slot receiver/running back that's being recruited by Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue and the Ivy Leagues. His name is Nick Burrello. He's got great hands, a good all-around player."
Former Illini and Chicago Bear guard Revie Sorey has a son playing for Hetlet.
"Trace Sorey is a very talented running back that will start for us this year. He played a lot for us last year. He's another kid that could end up getting Division I looks. We'll see how things go. But he's a good kid for sure. He played no defense. He returned kicks and played running back. Some receiver too.
"He's big, but he's only about 5'-10" to 5-11." He's a good looking kid for a skill player. He's just got to be motivated a little bit. He's been great in the offseason and has worked hard. I see him as one of the leaders this coming year.
"There's another lineman, Johnny Kaspers. Tom Lemming has him as one of the top players in the state. He's a sophomore who played varsity for us. He's 6'-3", 270 pounds and very physical. He has thick hips and is a good athlete. He's a very talented kid. Schools are eyeing him as well."
The fourth player Hetlet mentions is just finishing his freshman year in high school. It is rare when a football coach is as glowing about a youngster.
"We've never had a freak athlete skill player who's big, but we've got a freshman named Kendall Johnson that bears watching. He's a 6'-1" kid that runs a 4.4 forty. He's just amazing.
"He's gonna be on varsity, and he may even start both ways. He's a physical specimen, and he's very explosive and fast. He'll possibly play wingback and linebacker."