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Larkin fans cheer during a game earlier this season. At 14-2 overall, the Royals figure to be a big story during the first few months of 2013. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
Now that we’ve put 2012 in the past, it’s time to take a glance ahead at what to expect in 2013.
Here are five local story lines worth keeping an eye on over the next 12 months:
1. Area boys basketball juggernauts seek more success
If the first six weeks of the boys basketball season were any indication, we could be headed toward quite a finish come March.
Larkin is 14-2 and riding a nine-game winning streak into the new year. Hampshire (12-2), St. Edward (13-3), Bartlett (12-4), Dundee-Crown (9-3) and St. Charles East (9-4) also own impressive records and, like the Royals, have their sights set on conference titles and lengthy postseason runs.
2. Conference changes continue to play out
Word should come soon on how the Upstate Eight will be comprised in the coming years. The UEC extended invitations in November for West Chicago to replace departing Lake Park for the 2013-14 school year and for West Aurora and Glenbard East to come on board in 2014-15.
Meanwhile, the Fox Valley is still exploring its options as it looks to replace Johnsburg for the 2014-15 school year.
3. New coaches slatedto usher in new eras
There will be some new faces running the show on local sidelines in 2013, particularly at Streamwood. Ryan LaSota takes over the school’s baseball team this spring, and the Sabres will have a new football coach after Cal Cummins stepped down last fall. Boys basketball coach Tim Jones is retiring after the school year, opening yet another high-profile spot.
Elgin and St. Charles North will also fill vacancies atop their football programs in the coming months, and Jim Hinkle is retiring from his post as the Jacobs basketball coach. On the baseball front, Tim Dunderdale is in line to take the reins at Westminster Christian and Jon Anderson is on board as Dundee-Crown’s fourth coach in six years.
4. Local teams lookto end area’s playoff football drought
Things haven’t gone well in the football playoffs lately as no local teams managed to reach the state quarterfinals the past two years. Bartlett is the only area team to win a playoff game during that span, but the Hawks were ousted in the second round by Loyola last fall.
The local teams with the best chances of making a playoff run in 2013 all reside in the Fox Valley Conference. Jacobs will welcome back some notable offensive talent from last year’s 5-5 team, and Huntley’s arrow is pointing up after a solid 6-4 showing in 2012. Last but not least, don’t count out Dundee-Crown, which made major strides last fall while posting a 3-6 record.
5. Streaks of team, individual success on the line
St. Edward’s girls soccer team and Harvest Christian’s girls volleyball squad have become accustomed to postseason success, claiming back-to-back sectional titles the past two years. Both Class 1A programs will try to make it three in a row in 2013.
On an individual front, Bartlett senior Sal Annoreno is the reigning Class 3A wrestling state champion at 132 pounds, and he’ll be in search of a return trip to Champaign in February.