Running back Ivory Kelly-Martin is new to Oswego East High School, but is well acquainted with shining on the football field.
Kelly-Martin was an all-state player at Nazareth last year before transferring to Oswego East. The Chicago Tribune reports that Kelly-Martin — who has committed to Iowa — had 33 touchdowns and 1,972 rushing yards for last year's Class 5A state champions.
In addition, seven key players are back on offense from last year's 6-4 Wolves squad: quarterback Jaylon Banks; linemen Omarr Woodhouse and Mason Madalinski; wide receivers Devin Riley, Kijana Caldwell and Stephon Harris; and running back Tyran Bailey.
On defense, linebackers BJ Graves, Colin O'Reilly and Tahj Oliver are back, as are lineman Elijah James and defensive back Devin Aguilar.
“We feel that we have a very experienced and talented senior class that has had a great off season,” head coach Tyson Leblanc told the Will County Gazette. “We hope to contend for the (Southwest Prairie Conference) title and make a deep run in the playoffs."
The Cougars went 5-5 last season for head coach Bill Bicker, who said the defense has potential to be excellent.
Top returners on that side of the ball include Jake Portz, Nick Portz, Joe Yanke and Jordan Eskridge. On offense, quarterback Nick Deppe returns, as do linemen Angel Diaz and Rumaldo Diaz.
“Our best athletes need to make plays when there are plays to be made,” Bicker said.
The Spartans' offense is led by five returning starters, including running back Jordan Nettles, who has committed to Northern Illinois. Also, head coach Anthony Imbordino said 6-foot-5-inch junior quarterback Cam Neely could have a breakout year.
Four starters are back on defense for the Spartans, who were 1-8 last year.
“We have a very talented group of young men that worked very hard in preparation for the 2016,” Imbordino said. “We are looking forward to a successful year.”
Assistant coach Pat Wilson said in an email to the Will County Gazette that this year's Redhawks — coming off a 12-2 season that included an appearance in the Class 8A quarterfinals — should be an athletic group that's experienced on the offensive line and has length on the defensive line.
Returning offensive starters are linemen Trevor Campbell and Christian Nussbaum, while starters back on defense are linemen Luke Turner and Joe Gannon, linebacker Laddie Skarecky, and linebacker/lineman Troy Hudetz.
Youth will be plentiful for the Bengals this season, as the team likely will have just five senior starters, head coach Mike Romeli said.
Matt Pratscher, one of those many juniors, will take over at quarterback, while wide receiver Cameron Edom is the lone varsity skill player returning from last year's 4-5 squad.
On defense, Romeli said the leaders will be safety David Salazar, cornerback Tim Mayerhoffer, lineman Jack Sullivan and linebacker Blake Coughlin.