Inspired by Fred’s recent undertaking and my incessant reading of ranking-infused fantasy football magazines, I’ll post my top ten. Because I CAN.
Certainly won’t be as good as last year, but neither will anybody else in the state. No doubt Lloyd will emerge as a star, and Abid is learning things too. Of course, Zahed is lurking somewhere in Rockford and he is the only year-long starter returning from last year. He tends to be inconsistent on the buzzer, but his experience helps this youthful squad. Interesting to see how he performs without Michael & Siva. Also, both of the Jordans may come out of their figurative shells this year. They are the wild cards, I think. If either of them can lock down an area (say, science), that will be a huge boost.
Again, big drop-off from last year. 4 seniors on the A team, 4 seniors on the B team. However, the C team of underclassmen followed us everywhere, and stepped up at HSNCT when we had to get our diplomas. Marcel is the stud, and Nolan could blossom into a specialist type if he works hard. Christian and Will return as the lone seniors, and both of them know things. They don’t study, but they’ve played a long time and put what they learn in school into games. Whereas I think Auburn’s potential depends on the seniors, I think Loyola’s lies in the sophomores. You know what you’re going to get from Christian and Will. If Marcel and Nolan get their act together, this team could be legit.
This is hard to gauge. Zach shows so much promise, but continues not to live up to the hype, in my mind. He’s the Harold Miner of Illinois Quizbowl. People claimed he would be the next big thing because he “owned the middle school circuit”, but consistently puts up flashy numbers against crap teams or feeds off of IHSA-type questions against good ones. He will continue to make all-tournament at basically every tournament, and will most likely lead his team to many victories. That said, I don’t think he will overcome the balanced attack of Auburn and Loyola when it counts. As far as the rest of the roster, they lost a bunch of seniors, but probably return a couple of people.
4. St. Ignatius
Again, hard to predict. Andrew Deveau is a rare talent on a crap team with an allegedly uninterested coach. I don’t know him well enough to say if he really wants to improve. He went to ACE camp, and took non-math/science classes (right?), which is a good sign. Despite comp. math being his bread and butter at IHSA, he could beat any of the three previous teams if he put his mind to it. I rank Ig 4th because I don’t know if they will attend tournaments or if Andrew will get better.
5. St. Viator
The best story of last year, hands down. Came out from the rug of an annoying varsity coach and went to both nationals. Unbelievable. Unfortunately, it was a senior-led team, but Dan returns with enthusiasm. Can’t speak to his supporting cast, but he likes quizbowl and has written some questions—something to be valued in a state where nobody produces a good-housewrite (by varsity players, I mean).
Jeremiah is the lone relic from the Carbondale team we all knew and loved. He definitely knows things, but is sporadic and negs hard sometimes. He also shakes people’s hands way too violently. They traveled 926487206963408 miles to go to top-notch events last year, but that may have been because they were so damn good. I’ll be interested to see if they continue to (have the funds to?) travel far and wide.
7. Buffalo Grove
Another story of a team who defied its uninterested coach. David and Nick have moved on, and Greg Ward remains, along with a science-inclined girl who’s name I can’t come up with right now. Ward will get points, but I don’t see the desire of last year’s team coming to fruition this time around.
8. Wheaton Warrenville South
Went to nationals for the first time (I think) last year. Don’t know much about the team, but I’m pretty sure Alex and Ashok graduated. No idea how good they will be; just putting them here because they usually assemble a decent squad.
9. New Trier
This was Ben’s team last year, and he punished people. The best NAQT player I’ve ever played against. The problem was, he accounted for 90% of NT’s production, and there isn’t an underclassman to hand the torch to. Steve Server showed promise and returns as a senior, but his ceiling is pretty low. Reinstein might have a trick up his sleeve, but New Trier will have a fall from grace this year. Even more concerning is the fact that I don’t remember seeing any B teams/underclassmen last year, which makes me fear for the program.
10. Everyone else.
Fremd. IMSA. Maine South. Springfield. H-F. Etc.