The top of the North Suburban Lake was clustered in 2011 with a three-way tie at the top between the Stevenson Patriots, Lake Zurich Bears and Lake Forest Scouts with each team going 5-1 in divisional play. Stevenson won the tiebreaker to get the automatic playoff berth and finished 9-3 in 2011 with a loss in the state quarterfinals for the second straight year.
The Patriots will have leadership from junior Matt Morrissey on both sides of the ball as Stevenson tries to get to the next level. Lake Zurich finished 10-3 with a loss to Rockford Boylan in the state semifinals after reaching the Class 7A title game in 2010. The Bears have a new coach in former Marian Central coach Dave Proffitt but he is familiar with the program after being the defensive coordinator last year.
Lake Zurich is always talented and could again reach the state title game. Lake Forest finished 8-3 after falling in the second round of the playoffs. The Scouts had a lot of players graduate so there are a lot of unknowns going into the 2012 season.
The Libertyville Wildcats also made the playoffs in 2011, finishing with a 5-5 record. It was a solid 3-1 start for Libertyville in the final season for coach Randy Kuceyeski, who had to leave due to a battle with throat cancer. It is now Mike Jones at the helm, who has been the defensive coordinator the last seven years.
The Wildcats have a lot of starters returning and could be the surprise of the division. The Warren Blue Devils finished 3-6 last season after starting 0-3 following a playoff appearance in 2010. Don’t expect Warren to have just three wins this season. The Zion-Benton Zee-Bees were also 3-6 but was an improvement from going winless in 2010. Look for more improvement this season from Z-B. The Mundelein Mustangs struggled to a winless record under coach Bob Stone but have changed coaches and the mentality appeared to have changed right away. The Mustangs won’t be winless in 2012.
The 2012 season is going to be another interesting one in the North Suburban Lake. I believe Stevenson will win the division again with Lake Zurich finishing second and Libertyville coming in third. Lake Forest will likely make the playoffs as well and it’s possible Warren may even sneak in.